They say you’re never too old for anything, well how about too young?
A few days ago, Selah Schneiter became the youngest climber on record to make it to the top of El Capitan – a hugely demanding vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park, California.
Schneiter, who’s just over four feet tall, began getting “pretty serious” about climbing El Capitan last year, so her dad, an American Mountain Guides Association-certified rock guide and instructor, started working on her technique and 500-foot climbs.
But whether it’s 500 or 100 feet you climb – or even just a few metres – it’s a great way too boost your fitness, and almost anyone can do it.
Here’s why you should give it a go…
1. It’s great exercise
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Young or old, we all need to keep moving, and climbing uses lots of muscle groups, working both the upper and lower body. As well as improving stamina and strength, regular climbing improves flexibility and agility.
2. It can improve mental health
Physical activity of any kind can improve our wellbeing, so take comfort in the fact that your first foot on the grip can initiate a sense of greater self-esteem, self-control and ability to rise to a challenge – even if it feels scary at first.
3. It’s a family activity
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No one advises you to climb alone, so it’s a social experience, and because it’s suitable for all ages, you can get the kids involved, as well as your mates and the older folks. With hundreds of climbing walls around the country, you don’t have to trek to a mountain for a great day out.
4. Climbing challenges you physically and mentally – in a fun way
Anyone lacking co-ordination can find playing sports tricky. But climbing builds upper limb strength and stability, so you just need to focus on moving up, down and across to scale a summit. It’s also great for the brain, as you work out your path to the top.
5. It’s a gym-free exercise
If you’re not a gym bunny and feel intimidated by weights and machines, sweaty aerobic classes and burning muscle pain, wall climbing can feel immensely invigorating and uplifting, while also being a brilliant form of cardiovascular exercise.
6. There’s less risk of injury
Of course, we’re not talking tough climbs like El Capitan, but according to a study carried out by the Journal of Sports Medicine, indoor climbing had the fewest injuries per 1,000 hours of participation, compared to other mainstream sports. So, it’s a pretty safe activity for all.
7. You can take it to the next level
If you want to push yourself, you can head into the great outdoors. Climbing clubs will not only help you progress to the next level, but they’ll open up a whole new world of potential climbing partners, and within time, who knows which rock formation you could be climbing and abseiling?
- Press Association