Climbing: The Physical and Mental Benefits

Climbing: The Physical and Mental Benefits

All children love to climb and explore, whether it’s scampering up a tree, scaling the sides of an adventure play tower, clambering on a bench or just scrambling up a rock to look around. In fact, you could even go as far as saying that from babies to adults, we just love to climb. It allows children to easily see their world from a new and different perspective and challenges those who dare to reach exhilarating heights.

Climbing certainly enables children to go on a journey of discovery where they will learn to make decisions, solve problems and to take risks at the same time as developing physical strength, balance and agility. Climbing provides great all-around exercise as it uses so many muscles in the body, as well as engaging numerous parts of the brain! It also creates improved self-esteem and independence as children learn to successfully set their own targets and plan and adapt their own routes.

2019 is the perfect year for encouraging new climbing enthusiasts, as Sports Climbing has been officially proposed as a new sport for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. For the first time in the history of the Olympics, athletes from all around the globe will compete across three specific disciplines of climbing: Lead, Speed and Bouldering.

Climbing is an ideal, fun way to get children more active and away from their screens and can even become an exciting, future career! One of the best things about climbing is that children will usually not even consider that they are engaged in active, physical exercise. They will also naturally take part in real life problem-solving in order to succeed. Climbing certainly has an abundance of benefits, which are simple to achieve during both curriculum learning and free play times.

Physical Benefits

Developing Strength Through Climbing

According to Guidance from the Chief Medical Officer, to stay healthy young people aged 5 to 18 need to do 3 types of physical activity each week. Encouraging increased climbing is an excellent fitness activity resulting in strengthening both children’s bones and muscles and importantly developing both upper and lower body strength.

The provision of a variety of interesting, exciting and safe climbing opportunities within a play space is, therefore, an attractive and economical option for schools, especially as it effectively reduces the time that children chose to spend being sedentary in their day.  It is a simple way of encouraging greater activity levels for a wide number of pupils.

Climbing is a relatively low impact form of exercise and the movements are often non-repetitive, enabling children to use their bodies in ways that are both fun and varied. It enables children to improve their balance, agility, coordination and body strength, whilst being active out in the fresh air does wonders for children’s mental and physical well-being!

Climbing can also offer a cardiovascular workout, for example when a child is determined and actively traversing an Adventure Trail or a climbing circuit. So physical climbing does offer children a great way to expend some energy whilst exploring, at the same time as using a wide range of movements to traverse different levels, and surfaces! The innovative Twisty Rope Climber provides an even greater challenge for children to learn to conquer; it requires a variety of climbing skills to cross the twisted rope netting, helping learners to master the overhang, developing strength, determination and resilience too.

Testing Strength and Endurance - Twisty Rope Climber

Children can also develop improved spatial and body awareness by the stretching, swinging, reaching, pulling and pushing actions experienced during climbing. It works their muscles so they can grow and develop effectively. The Hexagonal Climbing Frame is perfect to provide a variety of fun climbing opportunities within one a smaller play space, whereas the Climbing Ship houses a wide range of climbing activities over a larger area.

The Dino Mound and Tunnel has proven very popular in Early Years settings to help the little ones to master the first steps of climbing and to reach new heights; this forms part of the versatile Little Movers Range, offering multiple opportunities for the EYFS children to develop balance, agility and improve coordination.

Climbing actions also trigger muscle memory and teach children body control. Children start to develop a stronger grip and improved finger dexterity, which helps them to master smaller movements, improving their fine motor skills required for writing, cutting and preparing them for their future in the real world of work. For further information on how children can improve their fine motor skills to prepare them for work later in life, you can read our blog post, Fun Activities for Fabulous Finger Dexterity.

Learn the Physical Benefits of Finger Dexterity

With its multiple benefits, the installation of climbing equipment certainly provides a valuable addition to any play space. Climbing also enables very young children to become more ‘school ready’ as they will develop concentration, determination and improved physical development whilst climbing and exploring. Schoolscapes have an enticing and extensive range of climbing options and the amazing, new Climbing Stax Range has been specially designed to meet the physical needs of a wide age range of children, improving stamina, endurance and balance. It encompasses designs for both the EYFS and Primary age ranges, as well as different combination options so, can be tailored to fit a variety of play spaces.

The Tree Tops Climbing Towers Range continues to be a popular choice in both schools and parks, providing a range of inclusive, climbing equipment based around an inviting play tower; play towers enable all children to engage in active, tactile, physical learning whether from above or below.  Children have a wide choice of climbing options and have scope to play at different levels and can start their climbing adventure at different entry points.  Our versatile, open-ended designs mean that schools can effectively use our Climbing Frames to aid physical development in P.E. lessons, as well as providing climbing opportunities during free play.

Climbing supports pupils on their journey to become physically literate by developing their fundamental movement skills that they can then apply throughout their lives. Pupils will improve their self-confidence, motivation and physical mental strength so they will be better equipped to handle any challenges in their upcoming personal lives. It also provides learners with competence, knowledge and understanding of the movement foundation required to sustain an enjoyable and voluntary lifelong involvement in physical activity.

Sensory Benefits

Building Strength with Climbing Walls

Climbing equipment can also be an excellent way to develop the physical, emotional and sensory needs of many children with additional needs. It’s a fun, motivating way to provide occupational and physical therapy as well as allowing children the freedom to play, discover and explore by using their senses, away from the constraints of adult-directed learning. Children with physical disabilities often spend more time engaged in sedentary activities than active ones. Climbing at any level allows them to move their bodies more to get involved in physical exercise, which can often improve digestion and circulation too. Hospitals and Care Centres find Climbing Frames like the Treetops Towers a useful tool in aiding children’s physical, mental and social recovery.

A Climbing Wall has colourful, fade resistant backboard with cut-out holds, or bold splashes of colour from the durable, tactile hand-holds fixed securely upon natural wood. This looks both exciting and inviting, often leading to improved motivation to participate in the activity. Often reluctant learners excel at climbing. They can set themselves challenges that they thoroughly enjoy achieving!

Climbing’s tactile nature also develops the vestibular system (the sensory system that contributes to the sense of balance and spatial orientation for coordinating movement with balance).  As children climb, they gain exposure to movement and to sensory input which can really help with motor processing.

Climbing similarly gives children’s bodies proprioceptive input (awareness of their own body’s position and movement). The pressure they feel in their muscles and joints can really help with their internal regulation. So climbing certainly has many benefits for children with SEND.

Mental Benefits

Mental and Social Benefits of Climbing

Climbing can stimulate and invigorate children’s imaginations, helping young people to develop their sense of fun and adventure whilst becoming involved in self-initiated play. It reinforces children’s motivation to succeed as an individual as children can set their own personal targets, leading to improved dedication, motivation, drive and focus. This promotes personal ambition and challenge and increased self-belief.

It also develops logical and sequential thought, concentration and advance motor planning. It can focus the mind and can involve teamwork and trust when children work together in an imaginative game or are using a Climbing Wall or Climbing Tower collaboratively.

Children can develop their personal, social and moral qualities as they help, encourage and support their friends on their unique climbing adventures. Problem-solving is intrinsic to climbing too, as there will always be different routes that can be taken. It is very liberating for children to have the freedom of choice!

The process of climbing itself can also provide a degree of stress relief as if children’s endorphins get going, it will make them feel better and thus reduce their stress levels and improve their mental well-being.

Improving Mental Well Being Through Climbing

Cognitive Benefits

Children will develop cognitive skills by participating in a variety of climbing activities, developing better memory recall and showing improvements in concentration and attention levels. This will help them focus on mental tasks and they will make stronger links through kinaesthetic experiences.

This especially helps when learning directional and positional language, reinforcing maths understanding; children can remember and relate to physical actions they’ve carried out themselves in a real, purposeful situation.

Improved Communication

Climbing can also aid the development of children’s communication skills. Children need to learn to be clear and concise when giving instructions to each other in order to be unambiguous. They learn that communication is purposeful and has an important role.

Children will also develop an understanding of responsibility for each other and for their actions. Climbing can develop a child’s ability to understand the meaning of words and language, as they will be able to make connections between their actions and verbal language. For children with visual or auditory impairments, the tactile nature of a climbing structure can give them vital kinaesthetic clues linking their physical actions to a specific vocabulary.

Imaginative Play

Climbing frames like the exciting Climbing Stax Range promote imaginative, social and co-operative play. Children can imagine that they are scaling the highest, most distant mountain or climbing the rigging of an imposing pirate’s ship. It offers a variety of levels for climbing exploration. Children can also clamber underneath and even use tarpaulins and blankets to create a secret, hidden world below.  Learn about more ways that you can emphasise imaginative play in your school in our blog post, A Recipe for Perfect Imaginative Play.

Gain the Mental Benefits of Imaginative Play

Safe Risk Taking

It is an important life skill for children to learn to both manage and assess risk, and it’s the perfect place to experiment and learn during active play. By allowing children to explore and climb, children will be able to discover and test their own limits, as well as to stretch and move their own boundaries.

Being daring and taking calculated risks improves mental attitude and well-being. Our Climbing Stax Range, Andes Climber or Climbing Ship all provide perfect options to allow children to calculate risk within any play space whilst climbing in a safe and supported environment.

P.E. and Sports Premium

The installation of quality, safe Climbing Equipment in a school playground, is a very cost-effective way of spending your PE and Sports Premium (read our blog post for information on how to get the most out of your Sports Premium), providing longevity, broadening the sporting opportunities available to pupils and increasing overall pupil participation in sport.

Using Your Sports Premium to Boost Climbing Play

Pupils can access the climbing equipment both through P.E. lessons, playtimes and lunchtimes. Why not plan to install a range of climbing equipment across your school, creating a climbing culture and benefiting generations to come? Why not welcome in the local community, so as many people can benefit from active climbing as possible?

Sports Premium funding can be used to “embed physical activity into the school day through active travel to and from school, active playgrounds and active teaching.” The provision of more active playgrounds fits this brief perfectly.

Climbing Award Schemes for Children

Climbing is also now an interesting and exciting P.E. GCSE option, so primary school is the place to begin to acquire and even go on to master climbing skills and to get on the exhilarating pathway to a bright climbing future.

The rising popularity of climbing in the UK means we have increased access to Climbing Awards Schemes and achievement courses for children, all of which promote safety, self-confidence, and sense of achievement. The NICAS (National Indoor Climbing Award Scheme) is a well-established scheme for children aged 7 years and above which runs over 5 levels.

Visit the British Mountaineering Council website to access a range of blogs and resources that help and support teachers and pupils with developing their climbing expertise at school.

So Get Children Climbing

Here at Schoolscapes, we have the passion, experience and expertise to help you maximise the benefits from your PE and Sports Premium. We are renowned nationally for our innovative playground designs and for the quality of our products, generated from our successful family business. We will listen to your needs and your dreams and design the perfect climbing space for your school.


Find Out About Our Full Process


We have over 25 years of experience providing the perfect outdoor play solutions, and we love hearing all about the children’s fantastic outdoor, active experiences created by the discovery of our quality play equipment. We take pride in our designs, manufacture and installations and will help you achieve that perfect climbing environment. Safety and quality are a top priority and our equipment has extensive guarantees of up to 20 years.

So, let us help you embark on your journey to creating a climbing ethos in your school, where climbing will help to improve stamina and agility, as well as strengthen core body strength, improve motor skills, flexibility and coordination. Take advantage of our free playground consultations and get momentum behind your playground dreams.

The Benefits of Climbing

Start to boost confidence and self-esteem in your setting, whilst your children have amazing fun. Watch them become more physically active than ever before, communicating and interacting socially without even realising it! Let climbing lead your school to a healthier and active lifestyle, help in the fight against childhood obesity and make your children happy and fit and set them on the golden pathway to better, healthier futures.

Climbing: The Physical and Mental Benefits was last modified: May 15th, 2020 by Steve Bell

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