Whether you have plans to scale a mountain IRL or simply want to give the new rock climbing studio in your city a try, one thing’s for sure: Rock climbing boasts many health benefits. This exercise, which has seen a resurgence in recent years, is problem-solving — the physical way. The color-coded paths engage your mind, muscles, and for lack of better words, problem-solving skills. Taking on “the wall” — no matter how tall — is a feat in itself, which makes the physical and mental benefits even more appealing. The best part? The physical and mental benefits of rock climbing will help you take on your toughest workout classes — cycling, HIIT, you name it — and best of all, may even help you at your 9-5 and beyond.
Your entire body gets a workout.
If you’re looking for a full body workout, look no further. Rock climbing is one of the only exercises that targets each and every muscle in your body. When pulling yourself up, not only will you engage your back and arm muscles, but you’ll also put your core, quads and calves to work. That means that it’s crucial that you warm up your entire body before you start climbing and follow up with a long post-climb stretch.
You test (and improve) your flexibility.
Just when you think your arms can’t make it to the next rock, somehow they do. It’s all thanks to a little thing called flexibility. In the beginning of your climbing journey, it may be more of a challenge to move from rock to rock, but it’s all a part of the climb (get it?). Over time, the constant reaching motion will improve the range of motion in your joints, ultimately increasing your flexibility.
You strengthen hard-to-reach muscles.
When is the last time you consciously did a hand workout? Or how about your feet? Exactly. When it comes time to get our sweat on, our hands and feet are often overlooked because they don’t exactly show us the same results as say, our core, arms or thighs. The constant grip and release motion in rock climbing will eventually improve your general grip strength. Even though you may think this type of strength only applies to rock climbing, it’s also vital for holding on to heavyweights, stuffed grocery bags or anything of substantial weight.
You enhance your cognitive skills.
Like many exercises, rock climbing is just as mental as it is physical. To successfully scale a wall (or, well, try), you need to combine physical strength, flexibility, problem-solving and self-trust. That being said, by figuring out the best (read: safest) route to take, you’ll actually improve brain function over time.