TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — For the more than 40 million Americans struggling with anxiety and depression, researchers have found rock climbing works like therapy. Researchers from the University of Arizona studied a group of novice rock climbers over a 24-week period.
Arizona-based professional mountaineer Lor Sabourin said the study showed a clear health benefit of rock climbing, but it was not yet incorporated into many therapy programs. Rock climbing – with or without a rope – has been shown to boost self-efficacy and social interaction, which are key to helping people with depression.
“We know it’s therapeutic and we know people get benefits from it,” they said. “But when we try to describe why, it’s really hard to do and it makes it very difficult to accept it as an evidence-based treatment, so it’s hard for people to sign up or pay for it. that.”
For Rock Solid Fitness climber and climbing coach, Gustavo Figueroa said he has seen the impact the sport has on people. He has been climbing for 11 years and he said it was something that helped his own lifestyle.
“It tends to push people to be healthier in general,” he said. “I know for me climbing has helped build my confidence and that’s what I see in a lot of people too.”
He said he saw how his accomplishments on the wall helped him thrive in life.
“For a long time it was the thing that really satisfied the need to feel important, to feel powerful, strong and capable,” he said.
Sabourin said the way rock climbing can help people – both in the gym and off the wall – is that people have to focus on the task at hand rather than something else.
“In life, we really avoid stress, so it’s really interesting to be in an activity where we are looking for the appropriate amount of stress,” they said.
For Sabourin, there is a sense of relief and accomplishment as they stand up on the wall and complete the climb.
“It became a really good resource for exploring my identity and for really helping to explore concepts that were more difficult to manage,” they said.
Sabourin earned a degree in counseling and worked for an organization called The Warriors Way, which helps people learn climbing skills that help them in life off the wall.
“Using rock climbing either as a new skill that people learn as a metaphor as they learn to do it, or literally as a metaphor as they learn those skills,” they said.
Both Figueroa and Sabourin said it’s best to contact a local therapy group, The Warrior’s Way, or the University of Arizona to use this therapy in a clinical setting, or just start climbing at a local gym.
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