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Climbing: Your New Favorite Workout (and Therapy?)

Quinn Ciommo | Writer

Picture yourself hanging from a razor-thin ledge, 1,000 feet off the ground, with just the tips of your fingers and toes suspending you from the nothingness below. What are you thinking about as you dangle? Will you hang, or will you fall? The good news is the rope will catch you after a couple of feet.

Rock climbing has been around forever, but in recent years, a new form of climbing has taken the international stage. The 2020 Olympics marked the first climbing event in Olympic history, shining a new spotlight on the sport and its many benefits for the body and mind.

Climbing has many obvious physical benefits, including increased grip, upper body, lower body, and core strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular health, all of which can greatly assist in other sports, such as football, soccer, and swimming. Climbing also increases muscular endurance and strengthens the integrity of tendon tissue. Building dense muscle and increasing flexibility can decrease the risk of injuries when performing any strenuous activity, climbing or not.

While not immediately obvious to those with a fear of heights, climbing has many benefits on mental health and flexibility, in addition to having a meditative effect when hanging on a wall. A 2020 study shows that when patients with depression were put through a 10 week bouldering psychotherapy course, their scores on the Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale decreased significantly more than when compared to those who partook in an at home personal fitness program.

Although it's not for the faint of heart, sport climbing provides a unique physical and mental workout that will keep you hooked for years, so go out, find your local gym, and let the ascent begin!


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