10 Reasons Everyone Should Try Rock Climbing
Are you tired of your same old workout routine? Are you looking for a great way to get fit without all the suffering and maybe even a little bit of excitement? If so, then you should try rock climbing. Here are 10 great reasons to motivate you:
1. It’s affordable to get started.
You can find some used climbing shoes to get you started for anywhere from $20 at a used-gear REI garage sale to around $80 online. Memberships to climbing gyms tend to cost around $60 per month, depending on where you live.
2. It doesn’t feel like a punishment.
Rock climbing quickly became my favorite way to work out because it’s not miserable. You can get a great full-body workout without gasping for air, drowning in sweat, or fighting the dreaded muscle burn. The next day you’ll feel sore in areas you didn’t know existed, just without all the suffering of aerobic exercise.
3. It’s different from your typical routine.
If you’re trying to lose weight or just get more toned, switching up your usual routine is often beneficial. A study in 2011 from Brown University found that people were more likely to stick to their workout regimen if they participated in a variety of exercises. So, if you’re getting bored with your typical routine, try rock climbing once a week.
4. You can improve quickly.
Rock climbing is a sport that allows you to easily track your improvements. There are so many skills to acquire and muscle groups to strengthen that you can always be improving something. This sport is very rewarding for beginners all the way to the elite, professional climbers.
5. It will feed your craving for adventure.
If you’re craving adventure or excitement, then rock climbing is definitely the activity for you. Whether you’re bouldering in the gym just 5 feet off the ground, sport climbing 60 feet off the ground, or up in the mountains climbing at 13,000 feet, this sport will definitely give you a rush of adrenaline.
According to Emory University neuroscientist Dr. Michael Davis, sports that involve more fear or excitement cause your body to release more endorphins, dopamine, and norepinephrine — neurotransmitters that are more powerful than cocaine, speed, and morphine. Once you get a taste of the excitement, you might be hooked on climbing for life!
6. It’s a full-body workout.
Climbing is definitely my favorite form of exercise because it’s enjoyable and is a great workout. You get the added benefit of strength, endurance, and flexibility training all in one activity. Rock climbing just twice a week can help you meet the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommendation of flexibility exercises twice a week, as well as the recommendation from U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to engage in full-body muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week.
7. It’s a great way to meet people.
Rock climbing, especially in a gym, is a very social sport. There’s plenty of down time while you’re resting between climbs, so it’s very easy to meet other people if you hang out at climbing gyms. I’ve met realtors, graphic designers, web designers, architects, land surveyors, medical students, engineers, massage therapists, nurses, photographers, and firefighters all in the same climbing gym. So, if you’re looking for a workout partner or maybe just a diverse group of friends, go hang out at your local climbing gym. You’re bound to meet some amazing people.
8. It gives you something to work toward.
For me, climbing is enjoyable because it resembles a fun video game with many different levels. If you’ve ever played a game with levels, then you know how exciting it can be when you work really hard to accomplish a goal and finally succeed.
All your life you’re given goals to work toward. They may be related to education, relationships, status, career, or possessions, but at some point in life, it’s easy to feel like you’ve run out of goals. Rock climbing is a sport that can be easily measured and constantly pursued. So, if you find yourself motivated by challenges, you'll probably enjoy climbing.
9. Anyone can excel at it with time and practice.
Rock climbing is very different from other popular sports. You don’t necessarily need to be young, old, tall or short to be a great rock climber. Sure, there may be factors that predispose you to the sport, like a background in gymnastics or dance, or a wingspan 6 inches longer than your height, but generally speaking, anyone can excel at rock climbing. Some of the strongest climbers in the world range from about 13 to 35 years old. Climbing is truly a very inclusive and enjoyable sport.
10. It teaches your mind and body to work together.
Climbing is very much a physical and mental challenge. The rock presents you with a puzzle that you solve through body movements and different techniques in order to reach the top. The route may require fancy footwork, a strong core, contact strength, or just the ability to go for a hold that seems well out of your reach. No matter how much experience you have, climbing is great training for your brain. It can even help you meet the ACSM recommendations to engage in a neuromuscular activity two to three times per week to help with balance, agility and coordination.
So if you’re looking for an exciting past time, a fun group of friends, or just something different, rock climbing is an activity that you should definitely try!
Aicacia Young is a Registered Dietitian, sponsored rock climber, and creator of Climb Healthy, an online health resource for outdoor enthusiasts and extreme athletes. She hopes to inspire others to conquer their fears, push their limits, and pursue their dreams in the healthiest way possible. If you'd like to receive her FREE Top 10 Recovery Meals eBook, sign up here. Follow her on Instagram @memoirs_of_aicacia or @climbhealthy.