If you have been looking for a new form of exercise that is both mentally and physically stimulating, then perhaps you should give bouldering a try. This form of rock climbing does not rely on ropes or harnesses, which highlights focus, strategic thinking, and physical strength. In addition, bouldering can also be done in groups or with your family. This article will explain in detail the benefits you can hope to gain from bouldering as a form of exercise. I will include links to peer-reviewed scientific studies where applicable.
So, is bouldering good for you? Bouldering is a popular form of rock climbing that has a lot of mental and physical benefits. It is used as a treatment for depression and has been known to have positive psycho-physical connections as well. This full-body workout gives your cardiovascular system a full workout. Science has shown that there are multiple ways bouldering can improve your health, including improving memory, problem-solving, and concentration.
Continue reading for more information on how bouldering can help your overall mental and physical health.
- Bouldering Can Treat Depression
- Bouldering has Significant Psycho-Physical Benefits
- Bouldering is Beneficial to the Body, Mind, and Your Social Life
- Bouldering is a Great Cardiovascular Workout
- Bouldering is Good for Problem Solving, Memory, and Concentration
- Bouldering is a Full-Body Workout
1. Bouldering Can Treat Depression
It has been proven that bouldering is healthier for you than other more common forms of exercise like walking. Researchers in Germany found evidence that bouldering psychotherapy is not only effective in alleviating depressive symptoms but even goes beyond the effect of mere physical exercise. They recommend using bouldering as a way to cope with depression as a way to enhance the results of traditional therapies.
The great news is that the same positive responses were seen even in people who were already taking anti-depressants and attending therapy. A study by the Department of Psychology at the University of Arizona was able to prove that even short term use of bouldering as a therapeutic device showed significant benefits for people suffering from depression. These findings mean that if you are already taking medications and engaging in therapy to treat your depression, taking on bouldering will still give you a form of relief from the symptoms.
Although there is currently a need for more research in this area, what scientists have learned so far is hopeful. Indoor bouldering is an easy and accessible alternative, which makes it ideal for people who are not able to or comfortable with, going out into nature to climb a real boulder, and studies have shown it produces the same results. Assigning physical exercises to alleviate mental disorder symptoms has been a treatment option for a long time, and now there is proof that bouldering should be added as a commonplace treatment option for depression.
2. Bouldering has Significant Psycho-Physical Benefits
Psycho-Physical therapies are meant to bridge the gap between your internal and external health. Combining the two can significantly help with lessening the impact of somatic and psychosomatic symptoms for people suffering from stress or related mental or physical disorders. If you find yourself often moody or feeling out of sorts, then bouldering could be precisely the thing to help you rein in those overwhelming emotions.
The Department of Movement at the University of Rome conducted research to see if there was any significant difference in the psychophysical responses to participants when comparing bouldering to traditional full-body workout routines. They followed changes in physical fitness, anxiety, and overall moods. The results showed that anxiety significantly decreased after each single training session while both physical fitness and positive moods increased. This means that you can trade in a boring training for a quick weekly indoor bouldering routine and still get the same advantages.
Anxiety and stress are some of the leading causes of psychosomatic disorders. Employing a mixture of traditional therapy, medication, and bouldering, you can decrease both of those significantly, leading to a better quality of life. The effects can be seen even after as little as one indoor rock climbing session. That is a pretty good argument for adding this activity to your routine if you are someone who experiences excessive amounts of anxiety in their day to day life.
3. Bouldering is Beneficial to the Body, Mind, and Your Social Life
Medical professionals in Italy, Germany, and Switzerland came together to produce a paper outlining the ways in which rock climbing can help you. They shared an understanding that climbing is known to be beneficial for both the musculoskeletal system and the mind. It is used in physical therapy, behavioral training, and similar social integrational activities. There is even proof that children as young as elementary school-age can profit from this past time. That makes this an excellent workout for families that want to improve their overall health.
The bouldering community is also very social, and it is not uncommon for strangers to enjoy conversations and cheer each other on as they ascend and descend the rock walls. If you have found yourself wanting to be more social but are not sure where to start, then this activity is a great ice breaker.
It is a known fact that workouts that focus on spatial orientation, muscle coordination, and overall balance have positive effects on the human brain. These are all highly involved in the practice of rock climbing either indoors or outdoors. The main mental advantage is an increase in memory. The holistic health rewards involved with bouldering are proven and easy to maintain.
4. Bouldering is a Great Cardiovascular Workout
Heart conditions are one of the leading causes of death and disability around the world. There are medications to help manage symptoms and lifestyle changes that can be adapted to help regain a healthy life after a cardiovascular injury such as a heart attack. However, avoiding something like that happening entirely is preferable and cardiovascular workouts are the ideal way to keep your heart in tip-top shape.
The University of British Columbia conducted a study on the physical changes that take place while a person is rock climbing, and they found that “during climbing, there are increases in oxygen consumption and heart rate, suggesting that it requires utilization of a significant portion of whole body aerobic capacity.” The way climbing increases oxygen, and your heart rate means that your entire cardiovascular system is getting a healthy workout while bouldering, which could potentially add years to your lifespan.
Whole body workouts and physical exercises designed for the cardiovascular system, in particular, are known to improve overall health. Examples of these are walking, running, and swimming. As previously mentioned in the section on the treatment of depression, bouldering has been shown to actually be more productive than these other forms of exercise when it comes to overall health benefits.
5. Bouldering is Good for Problem Solving, Memory, and Concentration
Concentration and memory obviously play a significant part in any rock climbing pursuit since you need to not only focus on what your body is doing but what you need it to do after the next handhold and the one after that. The need to be aware of yourself and your surroundings at all times is a good workout for your brain. Stretching your mental muscles will keep you thinking faster and problem-solving better, which can then translate to physical improvements.
Drs. Ross and Tracy Alloway conducted a study that showed a considerable increase in active memory for participants after they climbed various structures and objects. The results of this study showed a phenomenal increase after just a short test. What they considered influential factors in the increased memory capabilities was the need to be aware of posture while strategizing next moves and using body muscle groups to move around or lift small objects.
It really is no wonder that indoor climbing centers and bouldering are becoming popular mainstays in almost every city in America. This new form of natural cross-fit training has a lot of advantages over traditional workouts. It is widely known that activities that strengthen memory and problem-solving skills will also stop some forms of age-related mental decline, including dementia. They can also decrease the effects of Alzheimer’s in certain situations.
6. Bouldering is a Full-Body Workout
Bouldering is a full-body workout that uses muscular contractions to propel your body upward while various muscle groups control your body’s movement direction and speed. This total physical and mental focus works out every part of your body and increases stamina and strength.
As you can see from the studies and results provided in this article, the question “is bouldering good for your health?” has a straightforward answer. Yes! It not only increases your mental and physical health but also gives you a social boost while helping to combat the more persistent symptoms of common forms of mental illness. There is no reason not to try this form of therapeutic exercise.
This article has provided many studies to back up the claims that bouldering is good for you mentally and physically. Not only can it reduce symptoms of depression, it can also increase the function of the brain and cardiovascular system.
So what now? Are you ready to undertake your bouldering journey? Take a look at my bouldering basics article to get you started.
Before starting any new physically demanded activity, it is always a good idea to get the opinion of your doctor. If you intend to use it as a way to decrease stress or help with other mental issues, then consulting your therapist or a mental health professional is also an excellent idea so that you can have a better idea of how to focus your thoughts while climbing.