The benefits of physical activity are well documented. Regular exercise has been shown to improve both mental and physical health. But some forms of exercise impose a greater mental challenge to its participants which can lead to increased stress and anxiety levels. While rock climbing is a very safe sport, it can test peoples’ fears while also challenging them physically. Overcoming those fears can help participants actually improve their mental health status.
Aras and colleagues developed a study to examine the effects that rock climbing has on mental health and self-confidence. Participants underwent an eight-week rock climbing training program where they climbed for one hour multiple times per week. Mental and physical health measures were taken before and after the intervention and were compared to a control group which did not participate in any form of rock climbing. The results showed that the group that rock climbed had decreased levels of cognitive anxiety and somatic anxiety (physical symptoms of anxiety) as well as improved self-confidence following the intervention.
Although rock climbing can cause fear for some people, overcoming this fear and climbing regularly can have lasting positive impacts on mental health.