We’ve all seen fitness trends come and go. You might have even tried some of them. The latest in the long line of tried workouts is rock climbing. And thanks to the plethora of indoor climbing gyms sweeping across the country, there’s no time like the present to try it.

But just how good is it for you? And is it worth canceling your gym membership for?

Cardio Plus Strength

While most workouts focus on either cardio or strength, rock climbing combines it all into one intense physical feat. You’ll be working on upper body strength, obviously, but your legs and core muscles also come into play as you try and find your stability and technique. But what about cardio? A 2004 study found that climbers are engaged in aerobic activity too--and their heart rates were higher than anticipated.


Many climbing gyms also offer yoga classes. And that’s not by accident. Climbing participants are forced to stretch and contort into all sorts of positions, always seeking to find handholds and footholds just out of reach. That all means that climber’s bodies become more flexible over time. And a few yoga classes never hurt, either.

Mental Stamina

Did you know that your brain has been found to actually improve from climbing? A study from 2015 found that climbing trees can significantly improve working memory and other brain functions. The balance, coordination and spatial awareness of climbing trees is exactly the same found in climbing walls.

Stress Reduction

We hear a lot about mindfulness in this day and age, especially as we’re becoming more and more reliant on our phones. Rock climbing is a sport all about focus and living in the moment. Because you’re focusing on minute movements of your hands and feet, or large dynamic jumps from Point A to Point B, you don’t have time to think about your bills, your relationship or your job. Research finds that engaging in mindful behaviors can help retrain your brain in the long run, helping you react to stress in a better way over time.

Olympic Sport

Climbing is about to get global attention. In 2020 it is set to become an Olympic sport, drawing viewers and participants from across the world. It’s partitioned into three sections. First is bouldering, which is climbing short, hard routes without a rope. Lead climbing is next, which is moving up a high stretch of wall and focuses more on endurance. And finally speed climbing, which is a dynamic race to the top of a wall.

All that is to say that you should give it a try. What do you have to lose?