Have you ever wanted to exercise, but did not want to do something so boring and dull that it puts you right to sleep? Sure, walking on a treadmill or joining a spinning class can provide for some good exercise, but they certainly won’t provide you with any kind of thrill or adrenaline rush. On the other hand, rock climbing will definitely get the adrenaline flowing, plus it is also a fantastic form of exercise. The benefits of rock climbing are quite immense and it will definitely help you get into good shape. If you are wondering just what exactly rock climbing can do for your mind and body, you might want to give this a quick read through.
What Is Rock Climbing?
Rock climbing is a fantastic sport and type of exercise to engage in. Simply put, it involves climbing up a steep or sheer cliff side, often completely vertical, and trying to get to the top and back down to the bottom in one piece. Rock climbers do usually use some kind of safety apparatuses such as ropes and harnesses, but there are more extreme versions where the climbers do not use any safety equipment, which is often referred to as free climbing.
Benefit #1: Increasing Grip Strength
Something that rock climbing definitely helps you do is to improve your grip strength. Of course, rock climbing involves having to grip onto various rocks of different shapes and sizes. You need to be able to grip onto various rocks or surfaces in order to pull yourself up to the next stage on the cliff side and you need to do the same to safely lower yourself on the way down.
Having good grip is one of the most important parts of rock climbing. Sure, in most cases you are secured with a harness, but accidents do still happen, so when anybody is rock climbing they always make sure to have a super firm grip on anything that is supporting them. Not having good grip when rock climbing can lead to failure and even worse it could mean plummeting down to your death.
Anything that requires you to have a skill, like rock climbing and grip strength, that requirement inevitably leads to practice, and practice leads to improvement. It takes a lot of finger, hand, wrist, and forearm strength to keep yourself from falling down the cliff, and constantly using your grip to hold yourself up will of course train that grip to become better over time. We don’t know about you, but if we are dangling several hundred yards above the ground, our grip strength is definitely going to improve really quick. Just don’t look down!
Benefit #2: Muscle Strengthening
One awesome benefit that you get from rock climbing is that it is fantastic for your strength. Some forms of exercise challenge the muscles in your legs, some forms challenge your core or your arms, and some rare forms of exercise challenge various muscles all at once.
Rock climbing is one of those very rare sports and forms of exercise that challenge literally every single muscle in your body. Rock climbers tend to have a low body mass index, or in other words, they have a high concentration of muscles compared to body fat. Just think about it, rock climbing involves using your arms, both your upper and lower arms, as well as your hands and shoulders too, in order to pull yourself up along the cliff side.
It takes your core and back muscles to support your upper body and to stay balanced along the rocks. Moreover, you use your legs when rock climbing to support yourself. Of course, every muscle that you use when rock climbing is used to either climb up or down, all the while making sure that you don’t plummet down to the ground.
This is a very physically demanding sport that requires you to be able to hold up and lift your own body weight for hours on end. This will inevitably make all of your muscles stronger. Just imagine, pulling yourself up to the next level, especially if you don’t have a good foothold, is like doing a chin up or pull up. Now imagine doing that up a several hundred meter tall cliff side. Strong muscles are of course beneficial for your body in a number of ways, with one of the most important being increased physical performance.
Benefit #3: Increasing Flexibility
Rock climbing is a very physically demanding type of exercise, and that is true in more ways than one. One very important aspect of rock climbing is being able to push yourself and your body to the limit, past the point of comfort. To get that great foothold you may have to really stretch your legs in order to be safe and to get that next gripping rock, which is several feet above your head, you really need to stretch those arms upwards to make it to the next level.
The point is that rock climbing requires you to be very flexible and reach for some really far place, at least if you want to be successful at it. Not only does rock climbing require flexibility, but it also builds and increases that same flexibility. The more you practice at something the better you get, and rock climbing is great practice for your flexibility.
Flexibility is important not just for rock climbing, but for many different aspects of your life. A flexible body and flexible limbs lead to suffering less from pulled muscles or hyperextended joints, it helps make you more flexible by being able to change your position as required to stay upright, and it helps to generally lessen the chances of suffering from a muscle related injury. Not to mention that being more flexible never hurts when it comes to your love life!
Benefit #4: Some Amazing Views
Something that not too many people may consider about rock climbing is that it can offer you some astounding views and sights that you are not going to see anywhere else. Seeing the world from such a great vantage point is like nothing else. Looking down a mountainside over a city or on top of the ocean is a rewarding feeling no doubt. There is also the fact that if you are a photographer you will definitely get some amazing shots from such an amazing spot. Being at the top of the world is an amazing feeling and the sights you will get to see when you’re that high up will blow your mind.
Benefit #5: Cardiovascular Exercise
Rock climbing is one of those very rare forms of exercise that manages to combine strength training, as mentioned above, with cardiovascular training. Estimates hold that the energy and cardiovascular effort required to engage in rock climbing is equivalent to running an 8-minute mile. Now that is impressive.
Sure, it takes a lot of brute force to climb your way up the mountain side, but it also takes a whole lot of energy and heart power. Climbing up a sheer cliff definitely stresses your heart and lungs because it takes a ton of energy to balance, pull yourself up, and stay in an upright position.
Moreover, rock climbing is kind of like the ultimate stair climbing machine. Sure, you might not be going at a record setting pace, but you are in constant motion and always moving up or down, which will definitely get both your heart and lungs pumping. Working out your heart is of course a good thing for various reasons.
A stronger heart leads to a lower resting heart rate, decreased blood pressure, a lower chance of developing heart or arterial disease, a lower risk of suffering from a heart attack or stroke, it helps control bad cholesterol, and it helps to control diabetes too.
There is also the fact that a more efficient heart means that more blood is pumping around your body, which means that your muscles get more blood and oxygen, or in other words, a stronger heart leads to higher endurance levels. The same is true for your lungs.
The more you use your lungs, such as in rock climbing, over time, the more oxygen they will be able to absorb and process, thus also increasing your endurance by supplying your muscles with larger amounts of oxygenated blood. In essence, rock climbing trains both your heart and lungs to be stronger, healthier, and more efficient, all of which are necessary for increased stamina, disease control, and a long and healthy life in general.
Benefit #6: Burning Calories & Losing Weight
One very big benefit that you can get from doing some regular rock climbing is that it will help you burn calories and lose weight without question. Rock climbing is an extremely physically demanding and energy intensive form of exercise.
It is shown that the average person can burn close to 900 calories per hour during climbing upwards and close to 600 calories per hour on the way down. Burning that number of calories is something that only the very most intense forms of exercise can do. Of course, your body needs energy to exercise, and that includes climbing cliffs. That energy comes from the calories or foods that you eat. Your body turns those calories into energy.
However, if you don’t have readily available calories from food, your body will turn to the next source of energy which is your fat reserves. Therefore, rock climbing can help you lose a whole lot of weight in a limited amount of time.
Even better is that intense exercise such as rock climbing also boosts your metabolism, which means that your body burns more calories than it normally would. What is also true is that rock climbing will boost your EPOC, or the number of calories you burn while resting. Rock climbing will literally boost your metabolism for hours and hours, even after you are done climbing.
Benefit #7: Challenging Yourself & Conquering Fears
Yet another benefit that you can reap from rock climbing is that it challenges you and helps bring you to the next level. Humans are competitive by nature and it is because we like to win and because we like to beat a challenge. Completing a challenge or doing something that you thought you might not be able to do always feels amazing. This kind of thing helps inspire confidence in us and confidence is a really good thing to have.
On that same note, we humans are also prone to fear and fear is what keeps us from accomplishing goals. It holds us back. Rock climbing helps us jump over that shadow of fear by doing something that humans were not really built to do. Challenging our fears is a great way to increase our self-confidence and overcome the things that hold us back in life.
Benefit #8: It Helps Improve Mood
The next thing that is so fantastic about rock climbing is that it can help relieve stress, get rid of anxiety, relieve the effects of depression, and make you a happier person in general. Intense exercise is known to affect the brain in some unique ways. One thing that exercise does to the brain is to stimulate the production of various neurochemicals.
When you exercise your brain produces chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, and endocannabinoids. Explaining what each of these do individually would take up a whole book, but the bottom line is that they are all mood enhancing neurochemicals.
Together, these 3 neurochemicals have the ability to make you feel happier, elated, joyful, relaxed, and they can even decrease the perception of pain. Therefore exercise is directly related to an increase in general mood and happiness. If you are suffering from some kind of depression, stress, or anxiety disorder, some good old rock climbing might just be the solution to your problems.
While rock climbing may not be the safest of sports out there, it will definitely get your heart pumping, and it will do so in more ways than one. The benefits of rock climbing far outweigh the risks. It’s a great form of exercise that will have you in tip-top shape in no time at all. This is a sport that will make you stronger, more flexible, and happier too!