Perceived Health Outcomes of College Climbers: Exploring Why They Climb


  • Eddie Hill Old Dominion University
  • Peter Ahl Old Dominion University
  • Cienna Gabriele Old Dominion University
  • Mike Willett Old Dominion University
  • Amy Shellman SUNY Cortland
  • Edwin Gómez East Carolina University



college climbing programs, health benefits, recreation and wellness


The sport of rock climbing has become more mainstream in recent years. It is now in the Olympics, many YMCAs, middle schools, and colleges. College climbing programs have become increasingly popular. Yet there is little evidence of the value and benefits of college and university rock climbing programs. Additionally, colleges and universities are constantly seeking high-impact practices and beneficial programs that address flourishing and well-being (Shellman & Hill, 2017). According to the 2015 National College Health Assessment, over 56% of college students reported feeling “overwhelming anxiety” (American College Health Association, 2015). Many studies highlight the potential benefits of climbing in general. For example, studies have determined training for rock climbing can reduce anxiety (Gallotta et al., 2015) and depression (e.g., Kleinstauber, Reuter, Doll, & Fallgatter, 2017) among adults. Other studies provide evidence of the physical benefits of climbing among youth with unhealthy lifestyles (Siegal & Fryer, 2015). However, the literature has limited research on the beneficial outcomes and values of college climbing programs.

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