Most people aren’t surprised to find that serious rock climbers are some of the most physically fit athletes on the planet. However, the health benefits of rock climbing go beyond just the physical perks. Rock climbing is actually extremely beneficial for your mental health, too. Rock climbing is truly the perfect sport for achieving the balance of a healthy body and mind.
Just as climbing can help build up your physical endurance, it can also build up your mental patience. While there are a handful of climbers who engage in “speed climbing,” the majority of the athletes in the sport must take their time and perform calculated moves in order to complete a route. That same mentality can be applied off the wall, too. Anything worth doing is worth doing right, and that usually means taking a moment to think through your actions before you take them.
Overcoming a personal fear is one of the greatest mental achievements you can earn. Many people who start out rock climbing have a fear of heights when they begin the sport. Making it to the top of your first route, even if it’s just a short thirty-foot wall inside a climbing gym, is a big achievement in conquering that fear. As you progress in the sport, your routes will get longer and higher. You’ll learn to trust in your gear and your skills, and working through that fear is incredibly healthy for you, psychologically.
People who are serious about mental health know the benefits associated with deep meditation, and rock climbing can actually fit that bill. While it’s certainly a form of “active” meditation, climbing can give you the opportunity to clear your mind, focusing on nothing by the wall and your individual movements.
Physical activity is a proven cure for stress and anxiety, and climbing is one of the best ways to reduce both. When you climb, your body releases endorphins to combat the negative effects of stress. If you’re going through some challenges in your life, tackling a rock wall will help put things in perspective and make those other hurdles a little easier to tackle.