Unschool Learning, Climbing.

Climbing is a great way of building strength, flexibility and fitness.

A recent study by Jiri Balas, at the Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic has shown that climbing may just be one of the top work outs you can do. Both climbing and bouldering involve “nearly the whole body’s musculature,” says Jiří Baláš.

While running, cycling, rowing and most conventional gym workouts teach the body to perform consistent, repetitive motions—either to build strength, increase cardiorespiratory fitness or both—climbing is “a more complex movement,” Baláš says.

When children climb they will use their arms, legs and core muscles. Usually in one continuous fluid movement.

Climbing provides a cardio workout, with all that pulling and lifting. ‘The cardio and energy use when rock climbing is the same as when you’re running at a speed of 8-11 minutes a mile’ British Journal of Sports Medicine.

However it’s not just the physical benefits, other researchers at the University of North Florida have shown climbing also helps boost brain power and cognitive development. The practice of all that hand, eye to feet co-ordination, balance and spatial awareness has been shown in their studies to boost a person’s working memory.

Climbers need to plan a route from the bottom as they climb and problem solve each move, twist and turn along the way. It’s the perfect balance of a body and mind workout.

Additional benefits of climbing can be building self esteem, confidence, improving listening skills and developing social bonds. It puts children on the edge of their comfort zone and gives them the opportunity to overcome fears and take risks. Climbing can be a lot of fun and good practice at being in the moment.

If you have access to a climbing centre or a budget to attend lessons thats great. Otherwise you can allow your children to climb on the rope ladder in the park, an apple tree in the garden or tackle those rock pool boulders on the beach.

Even allowing toddlers to scale furniture or the patio steps at home and showing them how to do it in a safe way is a good place to start. It could be a great foundation of learning blocks for later life experience.

Children are such natural climbers, they seem to understand far better than adults what their bodies need. It’s often us adults that are trying to encourage them out of it at every opportunity!

We love climbing as an alternative to traditional P.E. lessons but you could also add it in as a fun extra-curricular.

Gone are the days where climbing centres are only full with the outdoor adrenaline junkies who scale mountains at the weekend. Climbing has become much more popular as mu mainstream alternative to keep-fit with lots of climbing centres offering sessions for complete beginners. The Centre we visited in Bristol even offers a ‘Little Monkeys’ Saturday morning session especially for 4-7 year olds.