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June 11, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 2 Faves: 0

Strengthen Your Mind and Body with Rock Climbing

By Kim Straub More Blogs by This Author

Manic Monday or Something Else?

On more than one occasion, I've felt as if I were losing my mind. I'd walk into a room and forget what I was looking for. Or, I'd search everywhere for my glasses, and later realize they are on my face. We all have these days, and while most of the time we can shrug them off as the products of long, caffeine deprived work hours, the fear that it might be something more serious looms over us.

Diseases such as Alzheimer's and dementia are on the rise, and even though the exact cause of these diseases is still a mystery, there have been many breakthroughs in research. Numerous preventative methods, such as mind games and social interaction, are suggested to help keep your mind sharp, and exercise may also help prevent Alzheimer’s disease by providing adequate blood flow to the brain.

Don't have the time to do a couple crossword puzzles, hit the gym, and hang with friends all in one day? Make indoor rock climbing part of your routine and you can strengthen both your mind and body in one hour or less.

rock climbing

Climbing Indoors

With indoor rock climbing, you will never need to worry about battling the elements of nature and can work out year-round. It is also great for beginners, as instructors are always present and all equipment is readily available to buy or rent. Most fitness studios have a rock climbing wall that is accessible to members, but if you are looking for a more challenging option, search for an actual indoor rock climbing facility. These facilities offer walls up to forty feet in height with curves that bend towards the climber. Each wall will have different types of holds or grips, placed in different areas, making some walls harder to climb than others.

A Rock Hard Body

Do you remember that rope you had to climb in gym class? Although difficult, it was an amazing strengthening and cardio workout. Climbing up a man-made rock wall will give you that same great workout as climbing a rope. As you pull your body weight up the wall, you will strengthen your back, shoulders, and forearms. Your legs and core will benefit from pushing off of, and trying to balance on, your toes. Even your flexibility will improve as you desperately try to reach for that next hold and maybe even find yourself in positions that are better suited for an intense game of Twister.

A Sharpened Mind

Rock climbing is a giant puzzle. As you scale up the wall, you are constantly thinking about where you can place your hands and feet without landing in a position fit for a contortionist or completely falling off the wall. When climbing, you must always be thinking two steps ahead and deciding if your next reach will be a stepping stone to the top or land you in a dead end.

Planning and analyzing while you climb offers the same benefits as playing a mind game. Research suggests that through mind stimulation an individual can lower their levels of the protein beta amyloid, which can be linked to Alzheimer’s disease. By lowering your levels of this protein you are keeping your mind sharp and active, which, in turn, can help prevent certain degenerative diseases from taking hold of your brain.

A Larger Social Circle

Rock climbing is a social sport and is great for couples, friends, or anyone just looking to meet new people. New bonds are formed and previous ones are strengthened as the climber puts their trust, and potentially their life, into their belayer. In addition to physically supporting each other, partners can also act as a second pair of eyes and help the climber find a suitable route to the top or offer motivation to push forward. A special bond is developed among rock climbers as they discuss new climbing techniques using special rock climbing language such as:

  • Bidoigt – A climbing hold that has enough for two fingers.

  • Crimp – Grabbing on to a hold with the fingertips alone.

  • Flapper- A climbing injury consisting of a piece of loose, flapping skin.

  • Gabby- A young female climber who shows great potential in climbing.

And many, many more!

Most importantly, studies show that people involved in social interaction maintain their brain's vitality and cognition, which helps prevent diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

rock cimbing 2

Strength from your Fingers to Toes

Rock climbing takes time to master. Learning how to balance on small grips, pulling your body weight up a wall, and developing hand strength won't evolve over night, and your muscles may really hate you for the first couple weeks. But the strength will come, and you will find yourself reaching the top in no time. You may also notice your concentration and focus improving with the mental puzzle you play every time you plan your route to the top.

So as you are icing your hands and massaging your sore calf muscles after your first rock climbing session, just think about how you are climbing towards a stronger and smarter you, with a lot more Facebook friends.

Sources:

http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2009-08-18/opinions/36840507_1_indoor-rock-alternative-workout-climber

http://www.wikihow.com/Improve-at-Indoor-Rock-Climbing

http://www.alz.org/we_can_help_remain_socially_active.asp

http://www.belmarrahealth.com/brain-function/mental-stimulation-to-prevent-alzheimers/

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2 Comments

  • Cool blog, makes me want to try rock climbing - I found it inspiring. Well, maybe if the wall was only ten feet tall and not 40!

  • Looks like so much fun!

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