Are you looking for a new physical challenge to mix up your fitness routine? There are so many benefits of rock climbing, both physical and mental, making it a great option for people of all ages and abilities.
Whether it’s indoor or outdoor, more people than ever are discovering the benefits of this exciting and challenging sport. There are a growing number of facilities and plenty of outdoor spots to enjoy, which means it is accessible for those who want a change from the gym. So if you’re thinking of getting yourself a pair of climbing shoes and getting on the wall, read on to find out more about how climbing can help you live a healthier, happier lifestyle.
Physical benefits of rock climbing
Here are some of the many ways that climbing can improve your fitness and physical wellbeing…
Increased strength and flexibility
If you’re looking for a new physical challenge to improve your strength and flexibility, climbing is a full body workout that incorporates your arms, legs, back and core, while activating muscles you didn’t even know you had.
However, you don’t need to be incredibly strong to start climbing. Indoor climbing facilities are perfect for beginner climbers as you can choose routes and problems that match your ability level in order to build up your strength before challenging yourself to more difficult climbs. Most facilities will also offer coaching to help with your technique as you work on your strength and improve your confidence.
Improved fitness and weightloss
Just looking at some of the top climbers in the sport, it’s easy to see how climbing can improve your physical fitness.
- Climbing is a full body workout that engages multiple muscle groups.
- It’s a great form of cardio that increases endurance and fitness.
- On average, you will burn around 750 calories per hour while climbing.
- It improves general flexibility and muscle strength over time
As you gain more experience climbing, you’ll improve your ability to move your body around and maintain your centre of gravity while keeping your mind focused and in tune with your movements.
- The physical benefits of climbing improve balance.
- Demanding movements strengthen your core, arms, legs and back muscles.
- Climbing helps to improve balance in other sports, activities and general life.
Coordination and problem solving
Climbing is just as much of a mental challenge when trying to figure out the best routes to take and what moves are needed to get from one hold to the next.
Bouldering in particular is great for hand-eye coordination and has been shown to improve cognitive skills and problem solving through careful route planning as you make your way up the wall.
How does climbing help your mental health?
Staying physically active has been proven to help with mental health and climbing has plenty of benefits when it comes to keeping your mind happy and healthy.
Climbing encourages problem solving and logical thinking which helps to keep your mind focused and in the moment. This sense of mindfulness helps to reduce stress, improve emotional flexibility and increase self satisfaction for a more fulfilled lifestyle.
A sense of community
Joining the climbing community gives you a sense of inclusion and helps you create connections with like-minded people. New friends will help you learn the basics and offer you advice on improving your technique, choosing the right climbing shoes and finding the best places to go climbing.
Confidence and accomplishment
There’s no better sense of accomplishment finally reaching the top of a new climbing route you’ve been trying to nail for a while. Climbing gives you more trust in your abilities and helps you build confidence and overcome your fears- which is a lesson that can be carried over to all areas of life.
Soaking up the sunshine increases your serotonin and helps to improve your mood. Rock climbing gives you an opportunity to experience the great outdoors and clear your mind while exploring new locations with beautiful natural scenery.
What do the experts say?
We spoke to Scottish pro climber, Robbie Phillips, to see what he thinks the benefits of rock climbing are and how it has changed his life for the better….
How has climbing helped you to live a healthier lifestyle?
Climbing harder and training for goals is a huge part of what I love most about climbing, and having a healthy lifestyle is an integral aspect to making sure I can continue to do this. I need to eat well so I can train and climb hard, and treat my body with respect so it can continue to perform to its potential. Without a doubt this performance aspect of the sport taught me how to listen to my body and better understand what its daily needs were so that I can continue to reach my potential in climbing.
“There’s another side to climbing that, rather than feeding the ego, feeds the soul.”
How has climbing helped improve your mental health and is it a positive outlet?
I think for many climbers, climbing offers an escape from the stresses of everyday life – for me in my younger years, it provided focus during an incredibly turbulent time. It has since given a purpose to my life, which I believe a lack of can lead to poor mental health and depression.
I feel that the diversity of challenge and experience that climbing offers is a huge part of why it is such a good activity for mental health. Although climbing performance is a huge part of what I love about climbing, there’s another side to it that, rather than feeding the ego, feeds the soul.
I feel that this balance between being an athlete and being an adventurer that climbing has instilled in me has ultimately led me to finding a very happy and healthy balance in life… I would say there are few sports that can replicate this balance as successfully as climbing!
Do you need to already be in great shape to start climbing?
The coolest thing about climbing is how it levels everyone to more or less the same – me trying my hardest on a hard bold trad line is no different from a beginner trying hard on an indoor gym climb. Of course the risks are different, but the rewards are the same and the level of commitment from each individual is the same.
You can create a challenge to suit any level; you don’t need to be strong or fit, young or experienced. The only thing anyone needs to start climbing is the motivation – I’d recommend just going to the climbing wall and start climbing and see where it takes you.
Climbing with the right gear…
Climbing is a fun, challenging and rewarding sport that almost anyone can do but it’s important that you have the right footwear when making your way up the wall.
SCARPA climbing shoes are made with high quality materials in a range of designs, styles and shapes for different types of climbing so you can find the right pair for you and your feet.
Remember to share your adventures with us on social media. Tag @Scarpa_UK on Instagram and #noplacetoofar & #SCARPAUK.