In this article, we’re going to explore the amazing mental and physical benefits of mountain climbing. This exercise can change your body, mind, and teach you a lot about yourself in the process. Keep reading to find out how.
For those of you who are beginners, we’ll give you a bit of information on how to climb a mountain, where you begin and what you’ll need.
Then, we’ll go into depth about the mental and physical benefits you could gain from mountain climbing.
At the end, we’ll recap by talking about the lessons overall you can learn from climbing a mountain!
- How to Climb a Mountain?
- What do I need Before Mountain Climbing?
- Physical Benefits of Mountain Climbing
- Mental Benefits of Mountain Climbing
- Lessons to Learn from Mountain Climbing: A Final Word
How to Climb a Mountain?
Before diving into the amazing benefits you can achieve from climbing a mountain, let’s go over some of the essentials for beginners who want to start mountain climbing for the first time.
If you’re already clued up, click here to jump straight to the benefits.
Mountain Climbing for Beginners
Before going straight up to a mountain and climbing it, there are a few things you’re going to want to invest your time in.
- Hire a guide or take a class: Hiring a guide or taking a class in mountaineering can really help you on your first time mountain climbing.. If you do want to go climbing without a guide, make sure you sign up for a class teaching you how to travel through mountainous terrain, and learning the essential first aid information you might need on your journey.
- Start training: Training for mountain climbing is equally important. Mountaineering can be extremely physically and mentally demanding, but training for it will make it feel just that much easier! Get yourself ready for hiking with your backpack on for a long period of time.
- Acquire essential gear: Make sure you also acquire all the essential gear for climbing a mountain before you go. We also cover this in our trekking article. You can generally buy these for affordable prices online or in-store, or simply rent gear from a mountaineering shop.
- Choose a route: Choosing a route is the next and final step before climbing a mountain. Make sure you choose a route suited to your level and know your ways in and out before starting.
Choosing a Mountaineering Route
- Consult guidebooks and websites: When choosing which mountain to climb, it’s useful to read up on areas using guidebooks and websites. Look for things to do with difficulty, distance, elevation, gain, directions and trail features. Websites often detail recent trip reports (like reviews) which you can consult to figure out if a route is about your level or not!
- Know the type of climbing required: It’s important that you figure out what kind of mountain this is to climb. Is it a simple afternoon walk? Are you going to be trekking across rivers or through jungles? Maybe there’s some kind of scrambling or rock climbing required? Make sure you research this before you go.
- Know how long the climb will take: Also make sure you research how long climbing this mountain will take. Some mountaineering routes can be completed in a day, whilst others can take up to two weeks! They vary a lot, so do your research so you don’t get caught in an awkward situation.
Physical Preparation for Mountain Climbing
Before you start mountain climbing, make sure you’re physically prepared. We’ll explain some of the important exercises later in the article, but it’s also important to ensure you understand the dangers of altitude sickness.
Altitude sickness takes effect above 8,000 feet, but sometimes as low as 5,000 feet!
Even the fittest and toughest people can feel the impact of altitude sickness as levels of oxygen decrease in the atmosphere.
Symptoms includes difficulty sleeping, bad breathing, headaches, weakness, fatigue, nausea, dizziness and shortness of breath.
If you’re going above 7,000 feet, make sure to invest in some altitude sickness pills, or get some advice from a local guide.
Mental Preparation for Mountain Climbing
As well as physical preparation, you need to prepare your mind before climbing a mountain, especially if it’s your first time.
Climbing a mountain required a different mindset to most other athletic sports.
Mountaineering requires a lot of time, energy and discomfort. Therefore, you need to make sure you are ready for this type of commitment, and also that you’re aware of the dangers of climbing.
Up a mountain, if you injure yourself, it’s much more difficult to get help than it is in the gym!
Bad weather can roll in, leaving you cold and needing to turn back.
Be mentally prepared for these circumstances.
What do I need Before Mountain Climbing?
Before climbing your first mountain, theres a few things you need to gather to make your trip easier.
Here, we cover essential gear for climbing a mountain, as well as a training guide for mountaineering.
Essential Gear for Mountain Climbing
- Mountaineering boots: Hiking boots, which we cover in an article here, are one of the most important things to consider when climbing a mountain. Invest in a good pair, treat them well, and your feet will thank you for it later. Below are some of the current bestsellers for both men and women.
- Climbing harness: Consider the type of climbing you’ll be doing. If we’re talking about trekking or hiking, then you shouldn’t need a harness, but for anything technical, you’ll definitely need a simple harness.
- Crampons: Consider the terrain. Crampons are steel or aluminium spikes you attach to your hiking boots. These make walking in ice or snow a million times easier.
- Climbing helmet: If your mountain is at all dangerous to climb, it’s normally advisable to invest in a climbing helmet. This will ensure you’ll be completely safe if you ever happen to fall.
Training Guide for Mountaineering
Before you can achieve the amazing physical benefits of climbing a mountain, it’s important you make sure your body is up to the task.
Below are a few simple exercises you can do every day to condition your body to climbing a mountain!
Try performing 5-10 sets of each 3 times a day in the months/weeks leading up to your trip.
Mountain climbers are a pretty obvious one…
These exercises involve going into a press up position, and alternate lifting each of your knees towards your chest.
These strengthen your arms, shoulders, core and legs.
Burpees are another excellent full-body exercise. They coordinate your strength and cardio, and are an overall brilliant exercise to train for mountain climbing.
Just like in the diagram above, squat down with your arms, go into a press-up position, lower yourself down, then get back up and jump with your arms in the air.
Repeat this for as long as you can for a good challenge!
Pull-ups are a bit more challenging than burpees and mountain climbers. However, they are literally perfect for conditioning yourself for climbing a mountain.
They integrate your core and pulling muscles into one movement, lengthening your spine and activating your shoulders and back.
Combine a few sets of these a day with a few short runs a week, and you’ll be in perfect form for climbing a mountain!
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Physical Benefits of Mountain Climbing
Now without further ado, lets jump into our amazing physical benefits of climbing a mountain!
Keep reading to discover how climbing a mountain can boost your cardiovascular fitness, as well as your mental strength!
Great Cardiovascular Fitness
Climbing a mountain, trekking and hiking in general are amazing ways to boost your cardiovascular fitness and improve your health.
Climbing a mountain engages all of your lower body muscles, gets your heart rate going, and keeps this going for a long period of time.
This is one of the best ways to improve the overall health of your heart.
Especially when you go hiking for days at a time, you also burn loads and loads of calories. You’ll soon find that climbing mountains is in fact one of the best ways to keep fit in general!
Develop your Core Muscles
Want to get a strong core and improve the overall strength of your mid-section? Been going after that summer six-pack but not getting the results you want?
Maybe take up trekking, hiking and begin your journey to climbing mountains.
I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but if you look at a group of rock climbers or mountaineers, you tend to see that they’re all in exceptional shape.
This isn’t a coincidence.
Rock climbing and mountaineering built incredibly strong core muscles by engaging all of your stabilising muscles in your lower body.
You might not see results straight away, but beginning to climb mountains is a great place to start!
Flexibility is another amazing physical benefit of climbing mountains.
If you warm up correctly, you can reap the benefit of getting more and more flexible as you engage with mountain climbing.
You require very good flexibility in your legs to perform long strides on steep sections of a mountain.
You also require a flexible, robust core to keep this up for long periods of time.
Fresh Mountain Air
Don’t forget about the importance of fresh mountain air!
This is something that most people fail to get in their lives, so, should you be lucky enough to live in some of the best places for climbing mountains, you simply have to take advantage of it.
This article does a really good job of explaining the benefits of fresh air on your lungs.
Enduring the Weather
It’s also a great benefit of climbing mountains that you can force your body to endure difficulty and bad weather!
In our daily lives, we rarely have the opportunity to put our bodies through the trials of nature.
This ultimately increases of physical strength and our ability to endure hardship.
Trust me, you don’t know what difficult exercise is until you’ve spend five hours slogging through the cold rain to get to the top of a peak!
Mental Benefits of Mountain Climbing
Moving on from our physical benefits, lets venture inside the mind.
Below are some of the amazing mental benefits of mountain climbing we’ve gathered to share with you.
Socialising: Climbers are Awesome People
Not surprisingly, people who spend a lot of time out in nature are actually pretty chilled out!
Starting mountaineering and climbing mountains as a hobby is also a great way to meet people. It’s great because you’ll always meet like-minded people. You’ll also meet people in an amazing natural setting and always have something to talk about.
It’s also a great place to take someone on a first date, or as a romantic weekend away!
Mental Well-being and Mindfulness
Don’t forget about the amazing peace and meditative states you can experience on a long hike.
Picture this, you’ve spent four hours hiking through a dark, dense forest. You come through the forest and enter a gigantic clearing. Here, you find a pristine lake like the one pictured above, in it, you see the reflection of the encircling mountains.
It’s these moments mountaineers and climbers absolutely live for.
If that’s something you like the sound of, maybe mountain climbing is for you?
Sense of Accomplishment
There’s also the simple, incredible sense of accomplishment when you reach the top of any mountain.
As hikers, you’re constantly chasing this feeling, and putting yourself through hell simply to reach the top and get this feeling.
Over time, this can train your brain to feel happier, less anxious, and improve your mental health in daily life.
Do Something out of the Ordinary
In our daily lives, we’re normally engaged in some sort of rat race. Life gets monotonous, and every day starts to feel the same.
Climbing a mountain gives you the opportunity to get out and try something different.
This means that when you return to the monotony of daily life, you can have some sort of escape, something to look forward to, and more fond memories with friends to look back on.
Our last amazing mental benefit of climbing a mountain is the inspiration you get from being in such incredible landscapes.
It’s very rare that we get to see places like the ones you see when hiking or trekking.
The fact that it takes such a long time and so much effort to get to them makes it all the more special.
These landscapes can be refreshing and inspiring, leading us to have more positive thoughts and improve our mental well being in general.
Lessons to Learn from Mountain Climbing: A Final Word
It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of every day life. We’re constantly moving onto the next task and easily get wrapped up in our jobs and relationships.
Climbing a mountain hits the pause button, and brings a bit of much needed clarity into our lives.
Being in the mountains is like a form of moving meditation. It allows you to relax, zone out, and process everything you’ve been thinking about in a positive, healthy way.
Now its time to bring all of these amazing physical and mental benefits into your daily life!
Climbing mountains teaches us that the harder the task, the smaller the steps. Take each stage as it comes, pace yourself and always keep the thought of the goal in mind.
James Haden is one of the owners of the Active Thrills community, together with Nash Gibson – his co-owner. He works as a full-time copywriter for a private company and also a true adventurer. He is an avid reader, writer, traveller, and extreme sports junkie. During his free time, he researches interesting content for their blog and continuously writes for their audience.