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What are the Health Benefits of Rock Climbing?

Rock climbing is a versatile exercise that requires focus, strength, and endurance. The activity can provide wonderful physical benefits as well as major improvements in mental health. Rock climbing can be difficult, but the feeling of reward by overcoming the challenges presented by rock climbing is indescribable.

The physical benefits of rock climbing are tremendous. According to Abigail Wise in a 2017 Huffington Post article entitled How Rock Climbing Does Your Mind—And Body—Good, “Contrary to what many beginners may believe, climbing requires much more than upper-body strength. The success of sending — or completing — a route relies heavily on a long list of physical factors, including intricate footwork, lower body strength and lean muscle mass. Although not often thought of as a common form of cardio, ascending walls is a sure way to get your heart pumping, similar to the way climbing stairs or jogging does. A one-hour climb session can burn well over 700 calories.” Rock climbing is so effective as a workout because it incorporates strength and cardio exercise into one activity and utilizes many different muscle groups. Health Fitness Revolution explains, “Rock climbing requires several different muscles groups to be engaged during the workout. Abs, obliques, delts, traps, biceps, lats, quads, calves – in fact, rock climbing even works your forearm muscles by strengthening a climber’s grip. Virtually all major muscles groups are incorporated in even a single rock climbing expedition. A review published in the Journal of Human Kinetics in 2011 reported that elite rock climbers often have lower body mass indexes, lower body fat percentages, and increased handgrip strengths.”

In addition to the major physical benefits of the exercise, rock climbing also boosts mental health. Rock climbing requires concentration, determination, and problem-solving. As these goals are overcome, we push ourselves harder. According to the National Health Service in England, “The amount of goals you can set yourself is limitless. Setting yourself goals and meeting them gives you a great sense of achievement, which in turn can help build everyday self-confidence.” Rock climbing has also been shown to reduce stress, and can help treat mental illnesses such as addiction, depression, and anorexia. As a form of exercise, rock climbing incorporates the mind and body in a way that can be extremely helpful for those in recovery from addiction and alcoholism.

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