Climbing is a versatile sport – it challenges your physical and mental abilities and pushes you to try new approaches in a variety of different settings whilst gaining support from a community of likeminded individuals.
Climbing for active health
Whatever the chosen discipline, all forms of climbing offer an opportunity to get active and stay healthy, with the benefit of activities taking place in both indoor and outdoor settings. Calum McBain, ClimbScotland Regional Development Officer (East), commented:
“Climbing can take place on short challenging walls indoor above crash pads (bouldering) or longer walls which are more testing on endurance (roped climbing). You can also take both types of climbing into the outdoors.”
“No matter the discipline of climbing you choose, you will find an element of problem solving in trying to move your body over real rock or climbing holds."
Climbing is a great way to stay active because it blends physical movement and problem solving within a supportive community.”
Climbing can be physically demanding and exercises various areas of the body. There are numerous physical health benefits associated with participation in climbing activities, many of which are linked to the range of movements needed to complete a climb. Calum added:
“As climbing itself is so varied - it really is a full body workout. Slabby easy angled walls will require balance, trust in your feet and strength in your legs, whilst overhanging routes will demand power, core stability and technique. At the end of a climbing session, you will have given your whole body a workout, and you probably won’t even have noticed.”
A mental challenge
Not only is climbing physically challenging, but also mentally taxing. Calum explained:
“Climbing is different from other sports because the whole aim of climbing is to seek out challenge and ‘failure’".
"We often look for climbs that we cannot complete on our first try, or first session because there is growth and accomplishment to be found in the process of working out how to do the climb. Maybe it’s a subtle body position change, a foot on a different hold or just digging a little bit deeper.”
Numerous skills learned through participation in climbing activities can be transferred into other areas of life, and taking part can also be a great escape for many from the daily routine of life. Calum added:
“Many find this process of problem solving in climbing helps them when they go back to facing challenges off the climbing wall and in the ‘real’ world. I think anyone who has done any climbing can also attest to the feeling of escapism that can be found in the process. The process of working out a climb takes all our attention. In a world where our attention is always being pulled in different directions, this temporary distraction can be very therapeutic.”
Inspiring the next generation
In a bid to get more young people active and involved in climbing, ClimbScotland has been working closely with Urban Uprising, a charity who use climbing to empower young people who may be experiencing some form of disadvantage, whether that be financial, physical, social, or mental. Calum indicated:
“We support Urban Uprising by providing training to their volunteers which helps them running their climbing sessions. We also provide outdoor climbing sessions for young people at the end of their indoor climbing programme. These outdoor sessions take young people out of their normal environment and help empower them by helping them discover what they are capable of.”