Rock Stars on the Rock Wall
Anyone with children knows what a battle it can be to get them doing the things that are good for them. Brushing teeth, eating veggies, and putting on seat belts can all create the biggest tantrums, yet parents persist because they, unlike the children, understand the value of doing these things.
Climbing a rock wall is equally beneficial but without the negativity. Kids love it. WIRAC recently conducted a free school holiday rock wall program. With over 60 children in attendance, it was a huge success. In addition, Goodstart Early Learning centre brought in 30 children for a rock wall and swim program, with the majority of their children being on the rock wall for the first time. This was so successful that Goodstart will be adding the program to their future school holiday offerings.
The fun and challenge offered by the rock wall means that a lot of these children don’t know how good it is for their bodies – a bit like vegetables but a lot more fun. Given that they love it, it might be best to keep the benefits to ourselves:
- It’s a full body workout. Pulling themselves up uses the muscles in their arms and back, as well as in their legs. Their core stabiliser muscles are put through a workout, too, in maintaining their balance and stability.
- It helps increase range of motion and flexibility. Most sports involve moving in one direction, or they have a bit of dodging and weaving tossed in. Climbing involves up, down and sideways movements, sometimes at quite a stretch. This keeps joints strong and flexible.
- It’s great for both strength and cardio. They’re building muscle while increasing their heart rate. The exertion of climbing is excellent for both forms of fitness.
- Grip strength improves. Over time, climbers develop amazing strength in their fingers and hands, as well as their forearms. This makes all sorts of other activities easier. Imagine how helpful they’ll be at bringing in the shopping bags, walking the dog, or opening that stubborn jar lid.
- Increases cognitive function. The rock wall provides many options for where to place hands or feet. Kids need to look for the options and evaluate the best for them. Do I reach up high with my hand, or shall I stretch out with my leg because the next option from there will be better? It’s like a full body chess game, where planning strategy is just as important as the strength and skill.