Climbing to Better Health

There are many benefits of maintaining a healthy life style and one of the major keys is consistently staying active.  Consistency can be a challenge and a drag when you feel like you are doing the same repetitive activities over and over.  Cross training can help alleviate this boredom and keep you excited and energized about staying active.  As well as providing an exciting alternative to your typical workout, cross training has many other benefits, the most widely recognized of which is injury prevention. One of my person favorite forms of cross training is rock climbing.

https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1420393000485-4697383da9ec?ixlib=rb-0.3.5&q=80&fm=jpg&crop=entropy&s=9d11e076c1d8027b104098ba084e3f1c
Photo by Vincenzo Di Giorgi 

Rock climbing has tons of physical and mental health benefits and it an exhilarating and rewarding sport. Just of few of my personal favorite benefits are below:

Cardio

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classify rock climbing as a vigorous activity meaning you burn greater than than 7 kcal/min which makes it an excellent fat burning activity. Harvard Medical School found that a 185 pound person would burn about 488 calories during 30 minutes of climbing, this is roughly equivalent to running a 5k at a 9 minute mile pace.

Full Body Workout

After your first day of rock climbing you will find sore muscles that you didn’t even know existed. Climbing is truly a full body workout that works your upper body, lower body and core simultaneously. Climbing will strengthen your upper arms, forearms, shoulders, back, neck, abs and legs, it will increase grip strength and flexibility all the while improving hand eye coordination and balance.

Problem Solving

Climbing is a unique sport in the sense that each climb (or “problem” as the pros call them) is a different puzzle that must be solved. Finding a path that allows you to ascend the route can prove to be challenging and helps develop problem solving skills, patience and concentration. Many novice climbers will problem solve on the wall and try to plan their next move one at a time after they have executed their previous move. Advanced climbers will begin to visualize the entire assent and plan and conceptualize their body positions, balance and weight distribution to determine what moves to make in order to successfully ascend the entire route on their first attempt.

Stress Relief

Climbing can be an incredible source of stress relief. All exercise in general has been shown to alleviate stress but climbing has some qualities that make it even more suited for relieving stress. Climbing can have many clear tangible goals (making it to the top of a route for example). This clear goal setting allows for a great sense of accomplishment which has been show to alleviate stress. Climbing also requires a great deal of concentrated focus.  Strict concentration has been shown to also relieve stress, much in the same way that meditation does. When climbing it is almost impossible to not become absorbed in the activity. This focus on your body and the next move does not allow for all the daily stresses life to creep into your mind and continue to nag you.

Go find the climbing gym nearest you and begin climbing your way to better health!

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