3 Reasons to Try Rock Climbing : Looking for an exciting and challenging exercise that will spice up your humdrum fitness routine? One activity that is both fun to do with friends (or your kids) and that can be practiced indoors on cold days and outside on beautiful ones is . . . rock climbing!
There’s a reason you always see top performers on shows like American Ninja Warrior as former or current rock climbers – this unique sport offers a full body workout that naturally enhances upper body strength and hand dexterity.
Key health benefits to try rock climbing include:
1. Builds Muscle
Surprising to some, rock climbing is an ultimate test of both lower and upper body strength. While you need strong leg muscles to help propel you up the wall and hold you steady, it is your upper body, especially your core and arms, that helps you balance, grip, and pull yourself up to higher and higher hand holds.
A wrist and forearm exerciser can be incorporated into daily workouts to improve arm, grip, and pinch strength for better rock climbing performance, and to increase upper body strength. Workouts with stationary rowing machines and resistance bands can also engage and bolster the muscle groups you use with rock climbing.
2. Improves Flexibility
As you progress to harder and harder rock climbing circuits, one thing you’ll notice is how much more flexibility is required of your body. Whether it’s reaching a far foothold by stretching your legs to their limits or extending your arms and fingers to grab onto a steady ledge, muscle flexibility is a must for any rock climber.
Boosting your flexibility can happen in a variety of ways – more and more rock climbing gyms, for example, are integrating yoga practice into their routine offerings as it is a great way to hone flexibility, coordination, and balance. You can also focus on dynamic warm-ups prior to rock climbing (like brisk walks or plyometric jump squats) to get your blood flowing, and static stretching after a rock climb to help draw out and lengthen muscles when they are most pliable.
3. Powers Mental Stamina
Rock climbing is as much a game of mental stamina as it is physical endurance. Not only do you need to constantly be assessing your next moves, but you become very focused on the flow of your movement and develop a deep connection to your actions and surroundings. Researchers at the University of Indiana describe the “flow” experience as an altered state common to rock climbing and other activities which help to activate relaxation responses in the body and provide stress relief too.
As a physical exercise, regular rock climbing can also lead to an increased sense of confidence as well as a release of endorphins, the ‘feel good’ hormone. The problem-solving nature of rock climbing combined with its physical demands can boost your mental well-being, and when done outdoors, may even bring about greater positive shifts in your mood and outlook.
In addition to physical and mental strength and flexibility, rock climbing gets your heart rate going and makes you break a sweat which means it offers cardio and aerobic benefits too. Any physical activity that works out your heart, muscles, brain, and bones is a bonus for staving off heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer‘s, and other health ailments later in life.
How can you get started rock climbing?
If you’re hooked on the idea of getting started rock climbing, great! Look online to see what indoor rock climbing gyms are available in your area.
If you are more interested in getting outdoors, try joining a local rock climbing group or consider starting with a form of rock climbing known as bouldering. Bouldering is a harness and rope-free type of rock climbing that involves climbing over small rock formations and large boulders. Your next great fitness feat is waiting for you, give rock climbing a try!
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