Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Endurance & Height Increasing Benefits of Rock Climbing

No one can deny that regular physical activity improves fitness. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service says as much, suggesting that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity each week. As part of your fitness routine, you should also take part in at least two strength-training activities a week. Rock climbing can help fulfill both activity recommendations.
Hand Strength
When you climb, you’re lifting your body weight. Because this lift originates in the muscles of your fingers, hands and forearms, you’ll experience improvements in your grip strength and pincer strength, which is the strength to hold something between the thumb and forefinger. In fact, elite climbers tend to have greater grip and pincer strength when compared to recreational climbers. They are also more apt to have stronger index and middle fingers than non-climbers.
Upper Body Strength
The increase in strength isn’t just isolated to your grip. As you continue into a lift, you transfer your body weight into your biceps, triceps and shoulders. This generates resistance and causes some minor damage to these muscles. The body responds by regenerating the damaged fibers, but in a greater size than before to meet the new demands of resistance, thereby improving strength. Throughout the lift, you’re also engaging the large muscles of your back, and the rules of resistance apply to this area of your body as well.
With every ascent, you'll improve muscular endurance, meaning your muscles will gradually increase their ability to perform a particular task for longer periods of time. A study published in the January 1996 “Journal of Sports Sciences” found that elite climbers could perform far more pull-ups than non-climbers. They also were able to sustain bent arm hangs for longer periods of time. Without the improved upper body strength, neither of these activities would be possible, at least to the degree found in the study.
Genetics accounts for roughly 60 to 80 percent of your potential height, according to Chao-Qiang Lai, a molecular biologist from Tufts University. The remaining 20 to 40 percent is affected by environmental factors, but the most influential of these factors is nutrition. Rock climbing -- or any other physical activity, for that matter -- isn’t likely to make you any taller than your current height. The study noted in the “Journal of Sports Sciences” saw no significant differences in height between elite climbers and the other two groups.

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