Increasingly, science is uncovering the value of one of the most fundamental forms of movement – climbing. Kids and adults don’t just love climbing for the challenge – there are developmental reasons that attract kids to it. Climbing actually plays a role in children’s mental and physical development. In addition to all the physical benefits, it has been shown to improve creativity, memory, and critical thinking abilities.
Here are a few benefits of a climbing wall:
- A climbing wall enhances problem-solving and decision-making skills. Ascending a climbing route is like putting together a puzzle. Each move requires a decision-making process. Where do I go? What is the best route to get there? Learning to solve problems and think for yourself in the moment (without the help of a glossary or google) is part of learning to make smart decisions, which is a skill set that helps kids in everyday situations.
- It provides sensory input and improves memory. Psychologists from the University of North Florida found that “proprioceptively dynamic activities like climbing” can significantly improve executive functioning, especially memory. Executive function is important not just for cognitive processing of information, but for behavioral regulation. The study showed that two hours after climbing, participants’ capacity for working memory had increased by 50 percent. WOW!
- Climbing develops spatial awareness and motor skills. Not only does climbing build spatial and directional awareness, but it also boosts physical skills such as balance, hand and foot coordination, and agility. When children use both their hands and feet to maneuver varying inclines and distances between climbing holds, it enhances children’s proprioception, the ability to sense one’s own body’s position and movement in space.
- It promotes healthy choices and a growth mindset. Overcoming challenges and fear is fundamental to being successful. Encouraging kids to leave their comfort zone, keep trying in the face of failure, and to face their fears helps them to see challenges as opportunities to grow. Challenging situations teach children to believe in themselves.
- Climbing develops focus and concentration. Climbing requires attention to task, focus, and discipline to succeed. There is no multitasking when you’re balanced on a narrow foothold trying to find the best route to the top of the wall. No matter what is going on around them, children must stay present and mindful when climbing, by focusing their attention on their hand and footholds. This builds the mind-body connection (how the movement of the body affects the development of the brain).
- Climbing is fun. Kids love a good physical and mental challenge. If you throw in a fun bell to ring when they reach the top they may never leave…
Climbing a wall or aerial yoga hammock is a challenge. It promotes agility, flexibility, muscular strength and muscular endurance. We change the hand and foot hold patterns on our climbing wall, which adds a cognitive challenge. The cognitive challenge enhances executive function and builds a growth mindset making it a wonderful addition to our amazing Mindful Child Aerial Yoga Classes.
Alloway, R. G., & Alloway, T. P. (2015). The Working Memory Benefits of Proprioceptively Demanding Training: A Pilot Study. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 120(3), 766–775. https://doi.org/10.2466/22.PMS.120v18x1
Emami Kashfi, T., Sohrabi, M., Saberi Kakhki, A., Mashhadi, A., & Jabbari Nooghabi, M. (2019). Effects of a Motor Intervention Program on Motor Skills and Executive Functions in Children With Learning Disabilities. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 126(3), 477–498. https://doi.org/10.1177/0031512519836811