Climbing is an energy burning, brain-flexing puzzle
Climbing is one of those unique activities that exercise the mind and the body and promote emotional well-being. It challenges your muscles and burns calories. It presents obstacles that encourage creative thinking and it offers opportunities to develop confidence and to relax in nature.
Building muscle and weight control
According to the Center for Disease Control, children need a minimum of one hour of moderate activity per day. This single hour is the bare minimum needed to maintain a healthy weight, tone muscles and burn the recommended calories. Sports tend to use muscle in very narrow ways. Climbing requires the use of your whole body. It works and develops all the muscles in the body from the small arm muscles that control your grip to the large core muscles that are so weak in so many of us, children included.
If you are feeling like it’s too hard to fit in that hour per day, consider smaller chunks or try limiting screen time. Instead of letting them play on a tablet while you prepare dinner, send them outside to climb something while you watch from the kitchen window. When you take away the electronics, you’d be surprised how active your children will become.
It is probably safe to assume that sitting around, staring at a screen all day won’t do much for their self-image. Activities like climbing, don’t just build muscle, they build confidence. The knowledge of their ability to overcome an obstacle, or conquer a new height, builds confidence in children. That’s confidence they’ll carry to school, into their careers, and into every other aspect of their lives.
Developing problem solving skills
Climbing may seem like a purely physical endeavor but climbing any obstacle is a puzzle. You have to figure out the best places to put your hands and feet. Your child may be working their way up a tree and find themselves with no further route up. They will have to study the branches below, creating a mental map of a new better route up. They will have to figure out the point to where they need to backtrack. Then they will have to execute their plan. This is all extremely useful skills to have. A child who can envision the outcome they want, plan it out, and execute it with confidence, will be leagues ahead of their peers.
How can you encourage them
I’m not saying your kid should be climbing cliffs this weekend, but let them start off with the fence, and then maybe a tree. Take them to a rocky area and they’ll take it from there. In no time at all they will be scrambling up and down and around every rocky boulder they can find. They’re resilient and curious, and once you help them discover their capabilities, their amazing little minds will take on the challenge. As a parent, the best thing you can do is help them start, help them develop that foundation of confidence to take charge. Set aside time to watch them play, cheer for them, and be their biggest fan.
Take kids to a rocky creek and in no time the will be climbing, jumping, and exploring.
A Web Developer by trade, future data scientist.
A motorcycle enthusiast at heart.
Most days I’d rather be in the woods anywhere.