Rock climbing offers you endless benefits, not only physically, but mentally and socially. It’s definitely more than just an interesting workout. The sport has been around since the beginning of time and has experienced an increase in popularity since its first debut at the 2020 Olympics Games.
Climbing is anticipated to become even more popular as people become aware of and learn more about it. Rock climbing is more than just ascending a wall – it’s a lifestyle!
Compared to most other sports, rock climbing is very diverse and provides benefits in every aspect of your life. Since climbing has risen in popularity, there has been an increase in the amount of research that looks at the effects climbing has on a person.
Let’s look at the benefits of rock climbing, starting with the physical benefits:
1. Improves flexibility
The nature of climbing teaches your body to become more flexible. While you are on the wall, reaching and desperately stretching to grab onto that seemingly unreachable hold, you are working on your flexibility.
2. Improves balance
Climbing involves a lot of standing on a toe hold whilst reaching for a grip. So, in order to effectively move your body up the wall, you require a certain degree of balance. As a climber you need to have a sense of control over each muscle to be able to remain centred and stable in extremely volatile positions.
3. Improves endurance and stamina
Even though you are safe as sound when you are attached to the rope, it is relevant to note the incredible ability one has to hold on for dear life. The ability to gather super-human strength to make that extra push, or leap for that out of reach hold. An added benefit is that the more you climb, the better your super-human abilities become. You will find that you can hold on for longer, and climb higher.
Mental / Cognitive benefits:
1. Decrease stress
Along with the wondrous meditative effects that climbing has on the mind, the physical exertion gets the endorphins going, which assists in making the human body and mind feel better, and thus reducing our stress levels.
2. Enhance learning and performance skills
Many studies have analysed how physical activity involved in climbing can enhance cognitive performance and capacity to learn. The ability to learn is an important part of maintaining mental performance throughout one’s life. It also helps fend off cognitive decline during old age.
3. Increase memory capacity
In addition to the above mentioned, the activities that are involved in climbing, such as balance, coordination, spatial awareness and other physical and mental activities can significantly improve a person’s working memory.
Did you know that 2 hours of climbing increases your memory capacity by 50%.
1. Builds confidence
As humans, we seek to continuously challenge and better ourselves. Rock climbing allows just that with frequent climbing enables you to recognise improvements succeeding in progressively higher grade routes. Overcoming an obstacle you once deemed impossible is a big confidence booster.
2. Improves communication skills
Most of climbing involves you and a partner – your belaying partner. It’s more of a team sport than people would think. And while you are halfway up that wall and seeking some direction from below, decoding what your partner is relaying to you assists with communication skills. Your communication has to be 100% clear, concise and unambiguous when giving each other instructions.
And the communication skills improving goes both ways – the climber and the belayer. As the belayer, you will learn very quickly to read the visual cues given to you by your climber in order to support them safely and efficiently up and down the climb.
3. Builds friendships
If you didn’t know it before, you know it now – climbers are a sociable bunch of people. Considering the South African climbing community is not yet as big as other sports, climbers are always happy to have new people joining the climb community. Excited for any excuse to get outside, and always keen for a coffee or a beer.
Here’s 2 bonus benefits of rock climbing:
1. You can do it all year round
Climbing is a sport that can be done all year round. And if you are one of lucky ones (which you are, considering Secunda has its very own indoor climbing gym) you don’t have to travel far to avoid the extremities of winter temperatures. In general climbing is considered more of a winter sport, but naturally if you can continue the climb inside of a warmer building, why not!
If you don’t have a climbing gym nearby, but want to continue building your strength, there are many ways you can keep your strength and climbing fitness up at home: install a pull up bar above a door or build a bouldering wall in your garage!
2. You can do it until you’re old
Because climbing is one of the few sports that doesn’t have negative impact on your body throughout the years of participating in it, you could potentially be doing it for years and years. Experts suggest to focus more on muscle building as we get older and less on cardio, which is why climbing is highly suggested late into your life. Of course you won’t find yourself with the same brute strength at 60 years old as when you were 25, but your body will still be able to get up the wall.
We hope learning more about the different ways climbing benefits your mind and body will encourage you to take on the wall. Whether it’s for fun or for improving your strength, there are so many reasons to start climbing!
Contact the professionals at Idwala Adventures to join in on the rocking revolution, right here in Secunda!