Even among fitness enthusiasts, rock climbing has earned the distinction of being one of the toughest sports one can engage it. A full-body workout activity that will push your physical and mental limits – testing a climber’s endurance, strength, balance together with his or her insight and overall awareness of the terrain. This immediately brings to mind some of the best rock climbing places in the U. S. – from the monoliths of Yosemite, California to the breathtaking sandstone pitches of Moab, Utah.
To put it bluntly, rock climbing can easily be a dangerous activity that requires a prepared body and mind, as well as knowledge of the target surface and specialized equipment required. While indoor rock climbing gyms have created a controlled environment reducing most risks that come with the sport, one can not deny that it remains physically and mentally challenging. With the pain of testing yourself against the rock walls come the gain which will benefit your health in the long run. According to Samir Becic, health and fitness expert named “#1 Fitness Trainer in the World” for four consecutive years, here are some of the health benefits of Rock Climbing.
Develop your mental strength
One of the forms of rock climbing is bouldering, which is usually done on smaller rock formations but without the use of secured ropes and safety harnesses. In climbing a boulder, the route that a climber identifies and takes is called a problem – aptly named because this climb will require on the spot analysis and problem-solving. Navigation for this kind of activity requires the climber to assess himself and the problem – estimating his reach and grip strength, the jump distance, as well as the possibility of succeeding steps or ledges to continue the climb.
Reduce stress levels and induce a natural “high”
During rock climbing, the human body reduces its stress levels by releasing a neurotransmitter called norepinephrine which prepares the mind and body during fight- or -flight situations. With regard to brain activity, the release of this chemical increases your response towards arousal, alertness, and vigilance, as well as memory and focus. This helps explain while people in intense physical activities, such as mountaineering and rock climbing, often find themselves immersed in their current activity and focused on the goal of reaching the summit, generating a sense of euphoria especially upon the completion of the task at hand.
It is a given that rock climbing will require several muscle groups during the activity. Expect a full muscle workout from the abdominal muscles to your deltoids, your biceps and triceps, to your laterals and quadriceps, down to your calves. From finding and taking that climbing grip, pulling and moving your body weight and the multiple shifts of weight that comes with it, virtually all muscle groups will be working towards your ascent. In the 2011 Journal of Human Kinetics publication, a review identified that rock climbers generally have lower BMI (body mass index), body fat percentages, as well as above-average handgrip strength.
Even your joints and ligaments will feel the change with regular rock climbing. One of the basic skills required to “solve a problem” is to be flexible, with a wider reach and greater range of motion. Rock climbing is not as easy as climbing a ladder as each wall or boulder you will encounter will command a distinct path to climb, requiring you to find ledges and footholds often in awkward angles. Also, there is the ever-present need to leap and reach across the wall in order to continue.
This is your all-in-one workout
A single rock climbing session, the climber is subjected to increased heart and breathing rates, muscle tension, and tests of stamina. Also, the upper body strength is required to pull the rest of your body upward while core and leg muscles work to maintain position and balance during the climb. This extreme sport effectively combines your strength training and cardio exercise in one activity. A study conducted in 1997 and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the energy consumed in a session of rock climbing is almost equivalent to running at about 8 to 11 minutes per mile.
Enjoy breathtaking views
For those who are familiar with, and still remember, the iconic introduction sequence for Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible 2, the panoramic yet thrilling view of the Dead Horse Point in Utah became a dream sight most people had but only a few were able to pursue. For some, just the view of a large expanse, from a bird’s eye view, free from the concrete jungles we spend our every day it is a treat in itself. Also, the feeling of standing on “the top of the world” and the climax of the physically taxing labor just accomplished inevitably creates that ecstatic and triumphant feeling.
Fight during your fight- or- flight moment
Mountains are high and rocks are hard – these are reasons enough not to try rock climbing. Our instincts toward self- preservation and developed inclination towards safety are something we inherited and are basically in our DNA. However, conquering these fears will open countless opportunities. Some of the most common fears among mankind relates to heights, such as the fear of falling. Rock climbing is the perfect opportunity to push yourself and get over it. Fear not, like rock climbing, either indoors or outdoors, are performed with safety harnesses to prevent you falling straight to the ground in the event you lose your grip. Starting with small walls and easy paths allow first-timers to adapt to the sport and eventually move on to more challenging climbs which leads us to the next benefit from this sort of activity.
Develop confidence and independence.
Withe very summit reached through climbing arises the need to find the next challenge. Activities like rock climbing offer an avenue for individuals to continuously improve and develop themselves, both physically and mentally. Also, the feeling of accomplishment that comes from a successful climb elevates confidence and self- worth and gives them the courage to try rock climbing again and again. Meanwhile, the demand to make decisions on the fly and pushing through fight- and- flight situations are good exercises for self- reliance and independence. There is a satisfaction in knowing that it was your decisions and your efforts carried you all the way to the top.