by Christopher Schafenacker
Headgame is an essential part of climbing. To send hard, you need to rein in fear and learn to steady your nerves. It may not come as a surprise, then, that among the many benefits of climbing is improved mental health. What is surprising, however, is just how much research supports this connection.
Of the many articles that explore this subject is a 2021 piece by pro climber Katie Lambert, which was published by Climbing Magazine. There, Lambert cites the work of Penn State University researchers who, in 2012, observed the daily activities of 190 students and concluded that those who regularly exercised experienced greater feelings of excitement and enthusiasm. A similar study published by BMC Psychology in 2015 likewise concluded that the benefits of bouldering, specifically, include decreased symptoms of depression in those who suffer from the mental illness. These findings were corroborated by a 2021 study demonstrating that “Bouldering-Psychotherapy (BPT) has proven to effectively reduce depressive symptoms,” and then further supported by new research showing that rock climbing nourishes an increased sense of self-efficacy.
If you’re a climber, yourself, you won’t be surprised to hear about these climbing benefits. After all, those who spend their days out on the rock know how good it makes them feel. A part of this has to do with the happiness chemicals (endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine neurotransmitters, among others) that the brain releases in response to exercise. Another part is the harmony between body and mind that climbing movement demands.
Mental health benefits, at the individual level, are reason enough to continue our relentless fight against the gods of gravity. However, the potential to use this mind-body connection to instigate positive social change has not been lost on climbers and climbing advocates. The Swiss organization ClimbAID (credit due to Lambert for putting this rad organization on our radar) works to foster “the physical and psychosocial development of refugees through climbing.” The Centro de Escalada Urbana in Rio de Janeiro, meanwhile, seeks to steer at-risk youth in healthy directions by capitalizing on climbing’s positive benefits. Nina Caprez’s and Jeremy Bernard’s mobile project Andrea Basecamp likewise seeks to bring the benefits of bouldering to marginalized communities by driving an enormous, portable bouldering wall to corners of the world rarely privileged enough to experience the activity (or have pros teach you the basics).
The many benefits of rock climbing—physical, mental and social—drive our passion for what we do. While we know we’re not solving the world’s problems by enabling people to climb and train effectively at home, we like to think we are at least helping a few people out there end every day with a smile, and an increased sense of well-being.
To learn more about our products and the passion that goes into building them, check out our hangboards and climbing training gear, or simply give us a shout at 1-781-739-2060.
Featured Climbing Training Gear
*NEW* The Rocketeer Wall: our free-standing adjustable solution for those who can’t mount a hangboard anywhere in their home or apartment—or who are limited on space. The Rocketeer gives climbers the additional option to set specific climbing holds. Recreate the crux holds of your proj and get ready to send, bruh.
The Rocket Wall: Available in 6’ and 8’ widths, it’s been tough for us to keep up with the demand for this innovative home climbing wall solution. Slightly overhanging, the Rocket Wall is big enough to set routes on, or to build a systems board.
The Rock-Stah: Our handcrafted version of a traditional hangboard, with curving crimp rails to help alleviate unnecessary strain on your pulleys. Because ain’t no one got time for a finger injury…