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Rock Climbing Health Benefits

Updated on December 22, 2016

Rock Climbing to Get in Shape

Whether you're a beginner or a hard core expert, anyone can reap the health benefits of rock climbing. It gets you in the gym, motivates you to go outside and joins you with people who enjoy doing a fun physical activity. Regular climbers are always in shape and it's easy to see why.

Rock climbing pushes you mentally and exercises muscles that don't get used in your daily routines. It is an awesome sport to build endurance and strength and truly test what your body and mind are capable of. You may surprised by all the aspects of life that rock climbing will improve when you commit to doing it regularly.

Just a few of the health benefits all climbers enjoy:

  • Endurance
  • Physical Strength
  • Mental Strength
  • Flexibility
  • A Great Community

Improve flexibility with rock climbing.
Improve flexibility with rock climbing. | Source

Climbing Improves Flexibility

If you've ever seen someone stemming up a climb (that's when your legs are fairly wide spread to support yourself) you have an appreciation for how important flexibility is in learning to rock climb. As climbs become more difficult sometimes the only way to make a few of the more tricky moves is to work on your flexibility. Stretch before and after normal exercise and give beginner yoga a try if you're looking to up your flexibility (and therefore your climbing).

Even if you don't work on becoming more flexible directly, climb tends to gradually loosen you up. Challenging moves can push you to your limit before you realize though so make sure to stretch before you climb to avoid injuries.

A Positive, Healthy Community

Rock climbing is mostly seen as an individual sport but unless you hit only the self belays at the gym, you need other people involved. Because you need other folks to get through climbs it forces you to make friendships even if you're a normally introverted person. The love and sometimes the inherent danger of climbing causes you to naturally form close relationships with your climbing partners and that is essential to any happy lifestyle.

On top of the health benefits of the sport itself, climbing a lot gets you involved in a group of like minded people. And climbing friends are good for your health! Climbers tend to have healthier lifestyle habits and are all around friendly and supportive people. You might find yourself getting involved in other outdoor activities that get you in shape through your climbing buddies. Often there's overlap between climbers and other outdoor activities like mountain biking, hiking, water sports, etc.


Rock Climbing Gets You Outside

Climbing outside adds on even more health benefits. Some climbing areas have long approaches and even the mild ones get your blood pumping on the trail. Spending time outside exposes you to sunshine (unless you're one of those crazy ice climbers) and boosts your mood.

If you're still a gym rat, look for local classes that start take beginner climbers outside. Or ask around at your gym or among your friends and see who climbs outside. Most climbers are happy to share their expertise and let you tag along.

Bouldering or climbing outside has many health and fitness benefits.
Bouldering or climbing outside has many health and fitness benefits. | Source
Hang boards exercises develop finger, arm and joint strength.
Hang boards exercises develop finger, arm and joint strength. | Source

Rock Climbing Builds Physical Endurance

Climbing requires lifting your body weight over and over again. So long climbs build up endurance. You use smaller muscle groups in your hands and arms than most people and end up really developing strength there. In order to conquer them you learn how to rest when you can and your muscles have to be able to recover quickly so you can keep moving.

If you are looking to improve your endurance through climbing, spend as much time on the wall as possible. See how long you can go without touching the ground. It doesn't have to be on routes that are at the peak of your performance but you should be climbing just under that so you can focus on pushing yourself for longer. Try to maintain good form as you get more and more tired so next time you're on a grueling climb good form will come naturally.

And Mental Endurance!

Nothing requires mental control like climbing way above your last piece of pro and maintaining your cool. Rock climbing is a notoriously mentally tough sport. You need tons of focus and determination to make it up each climb. There is obviously a very important physical aspect of climbing but the mental aspect is often even more important.

If your mental endurance needs some work try focusing on a project that is a grade above your normal climbing difficulty. Or pick a project that requires a different climbing style than what you are used to. Either of these approaches will force you to think of your climbing differently and try new approaches to get to the top.

Top Rock Climbing Health Benefits

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Share Your Thoughts on Climbing to Get in Shape:

What do you think about using climbing as a means to be more active? What physical activity do you do to improve your climbing?

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