The Benefits of Rock Climbing

In the previous post, we talked about how having a hobby can improve your life and your career. My hobby, rock climbing, has made me happier, healthier and more confident. Here’s how:

  1. It helps me focus.

Climbing is a mental game. Your mental state can greatly affect your performance for better or worse. When I’m on the wall, I have to keep my mind in tune with my body so that I can stay focused and plan my next move. If I let myself become frustrated, there’s a huge chance my next move won’t go as planned and I’ll come off the wall.

When you’re tied into a rope, falling isn’t a big deal. But, if you’re bouldering or free-climbing (fancy names for climbing without a rope), unplanned falls can be dangerous. Before I send, or complete, my climb, I take a few steps back to look at what lies ahead of me. Then, I pause for a minute to take a few deep breaths and let my thoughts go before getting started.

Real-world benefits: Because of climbing, I know how to rid my mind of anxious thoughts. If I’m feeling overwhelmed at work, I take a step back and plan to tackle each assignment one step at a time. Instead of worrying about the future and what it holds, I focus on doing my best on the task at hand so I can move forward to the next step.

  1. I look forward to working out.

I’ve always struggled with holding myself accountable and sticking to a fitness routine. Going to the gym can feel like a chore, especially now that I work full-time. But when I fell in love with climbing, I developed a habit of going to the climbing gym a few times a week. Climbing is a full body workout in itself, but being in the gym pushed me to explore everything the facility had to offer. I discovered early morning yoga classes and found some friends to teach me proper form for lifting. Next thing I knew, I was hitting the gym 5 days a week on my own time.

Real-world benefits: Obviously, working out improves endurance and fitness, but it’s also pushed me to develop healthier habits in other aspects of life. Going to the gym during the week tires me out, which helps me stick to a consistent sleep schedule. Exercise can also improve your mood and relieve stress.  I’ve definitely noticed that I’m happier and more prepared to take on the day at work when I dedicate time to fitness the night before. It’s a win-win, because being in better shape and more alert also makes me a better climber and professional.

  1. It forces me to confront my anxiety.

Growing up, I avoided doing anything that would make me stand out. This includes speeches, choir solos, relay races and any other activity that involved performing in front of others. Performance anxiety is actually incredibly common and stems from a fear of receiving criticism and making mistakes. When I reached my early twenties, I decided it was time to face my fears, and climbing was a great place to start. While the community is super close-knit, climbing is not a team sport. It’s just you, the wall, and maybe a few nice strangers that gathered around to spectate. At first, I was afraid of falling in front of others. But as I made more mistakes, I began to realize that climbing is all about failing and pushing yourself to try again.

Real-world benefits
Climbing in front of others helped me realize that I have to make mistakes to learn and improve. I make a lot of mistakes at the gym, some of which end in some pretty rough falls. But now, I know that my friends, co-workers and fellow climbers don’t care if I mess up, they only care if I succeed.

4.It gives me something to work towards. Life can feel monotonous, especially if you work 9 to 5. Thankfully, climbing is a very goal-oriented sport. Every climber has that one move that they can’t seem to get down or a stubborn route that pushes them to their limit. Every time I go to the gym, I’m excited to take on a new route or come back to an old problem that I struggle with. If I’m feeling confident, I can step out of my comfort zone and try something more challenging. No matter what, each experience is different from the last!

Real-world benefits: If the rest of my life is feeling stagnant, I can always count on climbing to keep me motivated. Sometimes it can feel like I’m locked into a routine from Monday through Friday, but it lifts my spirits to know that when I leave the office or my other responsibilities, I have the gym to look forward to! If my work performance is on a decline or I’m having issues with my interpersonal relationships, climbing at the gym and sending, or completing, a new route reminds me that I have a life outside of work.    

Since I can’t gush about climbing enough, here are few more benefits to taking up the best sport in the world. After taking up rock climbing I …

  1. Learned how to tie some really cool knots
  2. Made a bunch of awesome new friends
  3. Can challenge the jocks at the gym to pull-up contests
  4. Have something to talk about when I meet new people
  5. Go outside way more!
  6. Can carry all of my groceries by myself
  7. Discovered other hobbies that I love, like hiking
  8. Can scare my mom with some really cool photos
  9. Always have new bruises to show off
  10. Am more confident in myself and my abilities

What is your hobby? Tell us what you love about it in the comments!

This post is part of GovLoop’s millennial blog series, First 5 

Leave a Comment

One Comment

Leave a Reply