There are dozens of ways that rock climbing can be beneficial to your well-being, but most of them can be separated into three major categories. If you’re considering trying rock climbing for the first time, or even if you’re a seasoned climber and just want to know more about what you gain from practicing this sport, this article will give you a brief but detailed insight into what rock climbing can offer.
1. Physical Strength
The first and most obvious category is physical strength. Rock climbing can be a very athletic sport, but many people make the mistake of believing that they need to be in an elite-level athlete to even begin to try it. This conception most likely comes from the fact the the only rock climbing covered by the media is generally being done by the top athletes in the sport, and often does not depict the more common scene: a group of friends or family learning the sport together and just having fun climbing.
The truth is that just about anyone can try rock climbing, because there are levels of rock climbs ranging from crawling up a 45° slope all the way up to clinging to the underside of an almost blank horizontal roof using nothing but the strength in your fingers and toes (most people never achieve the latter level). All climbers have to start somewhere, and it’s typically on a far less-than-vertical face with lots of places to put your hands and feet while you progress upward.
The truly great thing about climbing is that as you get better at it you naturally get stronger and more lean. Climbing is such an enjoyable exercise to practice that, for the most part, you won’t even notice that you’re shedding weight and gaining muscle. It’s a workout that you hardly have to think about, because you’re so focused on how to get yourself to the top and not how strong your hands and feet (and core!) are getting in the process.
And lastly, climbing is a full-body exercise, so instead of getting really strong in certain muscle groups you’ll get toned from head to toe. Think of it as vertical swimming! Every muscle group is working together, which will give you a far more functional fitness than just working one group at a time.
2. Mental Fortitude and Clarity
Avid climbers can tell you, this is one of the most useful benefits when it comes to daily life. Climbing is as much of a mental challenge as it is physical! And because of this, while you’re making your body stronger, you’re simultaneously strengthening your mind. We don’t live day-to-day life on vertical walls. So each time you step off the ground when rock climbing you experience a moment of doubt. It’s how you respond to that doubt that will dictate your ability to excel on that particular climb. And with each climb, you become more confident and able to quiet the fear and self doubt. This translates to daily life, and you’ll find yourself more confident going into difficult or unknown situations, because that is what climbing is literally training you for.
Climbing will also train you to remain calm in the most challenging moments of your day. The more you climb, the more you learn that panicking during the challenging sections of a climb does nothing but cause you to tense up, lose your flow and fall. This philosophy holds true in every situation you encounter in life, and training yourself to stay calm through climbing will allow you to face your biggest challenges with composure and confidence.
3. Social Skills
Another less obvious benefit of climbing that will also play into your daily life is the social skills you gain through climbing with a friend or loved one. When you are climbing with someone they are quite literally your lifeline, and vice versa. That type of dependency will require a good amount of trust, which is gained through clear communication, respect for one another, and the ability to discuss all aspects of safety involved in the activity. These principles can help build relationships quickly, both in climbing and in daily life. Communication and respect are necessary tools for relationship building, and you can think of climbing as an accelerator for honing these traits.
So as you can see, not only is rock climbing an incredibly fun and healthy way to challenge yourself and get stronger – it’s also a masterful character builder! If you’d like to reap the rewards of any of these benefits then I highly suggest you find a reputable outfitter (or a friend you can trust) and get outside or head to a climbing gym and see how you handle the multi-faceted sport of rock climbing. You may just discover your newest passion!