Taking up rock climbing is an enjoyable non-traditional way to stay in shape. Unlike taking a class at the gym or running on the treadmill, you can’t stop halfway through. You’ll be forced to get through your workout to burn the maximum number of calories. After all, once you start that climb, you’ll have to descend at some point, which continues to burn calories.
As you climb up, you’ll use what seems like every last muscle in your body to keep going. You’ll need to push, pull and be able to make yourself balance -- at times -- on the tiniest projection. Needless to say, going up is where you’ll burn the most calories during your rock-climbing session. At a weight of 125 pounds, you’ll shed 330 calories in a half hour. But if you’re closer to 155 pounds, you’ll burn off nearly 410 calories in the same amount of time.
Don’t worry -- you’ll still get a solid workout on the way down, as you work to hold yourself steady to make it safely back down to the bottom of the mountain. While rappelling, you’ll use up 240 calories in 30 minutes if you weigh 125 pounds. At a weight of 155 pounds, you’ll shave off roughly 300 calories in a half hour.
Additional Calories Burned
You’ll probably do some kind of warm-up routine before scaling that rock, burning calories before you even start. If you’re doing a recreational climb outdoors and have to make a short hike over to the starting point, you’ll burn 90 calories in a 15-minute hike if you weigh 125 pounds, or more than 110 calories if you weigh 155 pounds. If you’re planning to climb indoors, walk over to the gym or hop on the treadmill for several minutes when you get there. A 15-minute speed walk -- going 4.5 mph -- uses up 75 calories in 15 minutes if you weigh 125 pounds. You’ll shave off more than 90 calories going the same speed for the same amount of time if you’re closer to 155 pounds. Plus, if you hike or walk afterward to cool down, you’ll burn those amounts of calories all over again.
Going for a recreational climb doesn’t just burn calories, it has a slew of other benefits for your body. You might think of running or a high-impact aerobics class if you’re aiming to get a blood-pumping workout. But rock climbing also makes your heart work hard, strengthening your heart muscle and lowering your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Another perk is the overall toning benefit. You’ll strengthen your arms, legs, chest, back and rear-end while scaling that peak. If you keep at it, you’ll start to notice that spots that are normally a bit pudgy may start to feel toned. As long as you climb frequently -- burning 3,500 calories weekly -- you can lose up to a pound each week, according to MayoClinic.com. Plus, it makes a great group activity, so you and your girlfriends can all challenge each other to get through the climb.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.