A growing number of people in search of a new sport are taking up climbing. Despite its image as an athletic sport, beginners will find it easy to get started.

Almost anyone can begin climbing. Most people start indoors at climbing walls. These offer ease of access, are subject to health and safety requirements and are not dependent on weather conditions.

At beginner level, climbing can cater for people of all ages, fitness levels, and abilities. 

Health benefits of climbing

Climbing offers a unique combination of physical and mental health benefits.

Regular climbing can improve your overall stamina. It also works multiple muscle groups, both in the upper and lower body, including your:

  • back
  • abdominal muscles
  • legs
  • fingers
  • shoulders
  • arms

Evidence shows that physical activity of any kind can help people with mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. Climbing involves concentration and thought, as well as physical exercise, which helps to:

  • keep you focused
  • clear your mind of outside worries
  • build your confidence and self-esteem

This may help to alleviate the symptoms of some mental health problems.

Climbing is also about planning ahead and puzzle-solving. This can help to improve your physical coordination and is thought to help people who suffer from dyspraxia. It also helps build upper limb strength and stability, which some people with dyspraxia often lack.

How to start indoor climbing

Most people start climbing at indoor climbing walls which usually offer introductory sessions with a qualified instructor. These can be for different age groups or ability levels.

Climbing equipment

The wall operator should provide the essential equipment you need for hire like a climbing harness and special climbing shoes. Some centres may allow you to use trainers, but tight footwear is essential.

Make sure you wear comfortable, unrestrictive clothing. If you're climbing outdoors on rock, more equipment like ropes and protection will be needed. This may be available for hire from outdoor activity providers, although as you begin to progress you may want to purchase your own. Ask an instructor for advice on what you need to buy.

Safety of climbing

People often worry about the safety of climbing, particularly if they have a fear of heights. However, it has an excellent safety record as a sport, providing you have the right equipment and take expert advice, especially when you start out.

There are different styles and ability-level climbs. It’s all about choice and experience. You're very unlikely to get injured on an indoor wall climb with someone holding you against falls on a rope.

Further information on climbing

You can get further advice about climbing through:

Last updated:
29 November 2022

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