When I was a child I did not have any computer games, the TV was crap and the video was only being introduced. Ihad to amuse myself in other ways. Most of my free time was spent outside. As a lot of my friends did, I climbed trees. These days I try to get my son outside and away from the video games, and to tell the truth, it’s a tough battle.
Last weekend I managed to get my son out for one day out of the two. We went to a park on the beach and climbed some trees. I have realised then what a wonderful exercise it is. Yes, there are some risks involved and I have fallen many times as a kid, but climbing has got many benefits to offset the risks.
First of all, it develops the body in many ways. It develops strength, flexibility and coordination. You need to use many muscles at the same time and still be able to stretch and bend in different directions in order to reach a branch and get up.
The biggest benefit, however, is that climbing develops the brain. You have to negotiate the best and safest way of getting up, over some branches and under others. A single tree can offer hundreds of possibilitites and not all of them are safe. So you have to be able to evaluate them all while you are still making sure that all your limbs are doing different tasks. How’s that for a brain workout?
And there’s the balancing act on top of it. Studies have shown that there is a link between balancing exercises and intelligence. You have to do a lot of balancing up on a tree.
Well, if you think that all this is not worth a risk of falling and breaking a bone or two, then you can always do some rock climbing. There are many good indoor rock climbing centres around and you will get the same benefits as from tree climbing with the added benefit of safety. The only disadvantages would be that the parent or an adult is constantly needed to hold the safety rope and it’s not free.