Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Rocking It: Six Reasons to Try Rock Climbing for Exercise

As children many of us enjoy climbing. However, climbing isn’t just for children, and taking up climbing as a hobby and form of exercise could be great for you. Here are some of the top reasons why rock climbing could be your next big passion, and why so many people make it a part of their lives.

Our last climb of the day
Our last climb of the day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
1. Get Outdoors: Rock climbing can get you outdoors, and often takes you to some really beautiful places. You could find yourself in a local valley, at a national park, or even somewhere on the other side of the world. There is great climbing to be done just about everywhere!

As an outdoor activity, rock climbing also ties in well with other hobbies such as camping and canoeing. You could happily spend a day paddling up a river to a climbing spot, enjoying a challenging climb, and then paddling back to your camp at the end of a great day’s climbing - now that's a full day of exercise.

2. Exercise Indoors: Although rock climbing is more common as an outdoor activity, you can also enjoy it in indoor environments. Many gyms and public sports centers have climbing facilities. This is great for those who don’t have time to get to natural climb spots, or who live in the middle of a big city. It’s also useful for those times when the weather outside is bad.

3. Graded for Difficulty: Rock climbing routes are graded. This indicates how difficult the climb is likely to be. As a climber, you will start out only able to tackle the lowest graded routes. However, with time you’ll improve and be able to tackle harder routes. This grading system allows you to gauge your progress, helping you to recognize your improvement and that of your friends, and feel a sense of accomplishment.

4. Can Be Non-Competitive: Generally, rock climbing is a non-competitive sport. The only person you usually compete against is yourself – to see if you can go that bit further and harder. This makes it a more mentally relaxed pursuit, even though it’s one of the most physically demanding of all sports. Generally all you have to worry about is you and the rock. This makes it therapeutic, helping you to stay focused and stop thinking about the stresses of your daily life.

5. Can Also Be Competitive: While much rock climbing is non-competitive, there are competitive options for those who are interested. Competitions are usually held at indoor locations. Climbers compete in rounds, and are judged on speed, point-reached and various other indicators. If you're a natural competitor, you may want to try out a competition once you get the hang of things. This will bring more fun to your climb!

Rock Climbing 101
Rock Climbing 101 (Photo credit: Ann Arbor District Library)
6. Fitness: In addition to the outright fun that rock climbing offers, it also improves fitness. Climbing itself is strenuous, and will challenge you whether you are a beginner or have become quite advanced. It uses all of the muscles in your body – from the tips of your toes to the tips of your fingers and everything in between! Your legs, glutes, core, chest, shoulders, back, and arms will all be put to the test.

After a certain point, you’ll probably need to start a training program in order to continue to improve your climbing. Having lots of endurance as well as all-round body strength are essential to advanced climbing.

These are just a few of the reasons why so many people today enjoy rock climbing as part of their lifestyle, and why you should consider taking up rock climbing yourself. It’s great fun, challenging, good for the mind and great for the body. What have you got to lose? Go ahead and give it a go, and try one more new, fun way to exercise this year!

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