However, the concentration needed to rock climb could explain why bouldering can be an especially useful form of exercise to relieve depression symptoms, University of Arizona psychology researcher Eva-Maria Stelzer explained.
“You have to be mindful and focused on the moment. It does not leave much room to let your mind wander on things that may be going on in your life — you have to focus on not falling," said Stelzer.
Bouldering could be beneficial to those with depression who feel socially isolated, too, she added. In addition to reducing symptoms of depression, learning how to rock climb and participating in bouldering helps depressed people interact with others socially.
Stelzer and Luttenberger collaborated on a study of bouldering in Germany, involving 100 people with depression to measure any changes in the research subjects’ symptoms. Half of the volunteers were randomly selected to begin bouldering therapy three times a week for eight weeks while the other participants waited for several months to learn how to rock climb.
The research team used a psychological depression symptom checklist and Beck's Depression Inventory to document depression levels in all the participants at different points in the study. The results, presented at the 29th annual Association for Psychological Science Convention, showed, once again, bouldering helped relieve depression.
The depression scores of the research subjects who participated in bouldering improved dramatically — plummeting from moderate levels of depression at the start of the rock climbing therapy to mild symptoms at the end of the study. But symptoms of depression experienced by the volunteers on the wait list to learn how to rock climb did not lift.
"I hope this study and future studies are able to impact a life. Depression is a severe illness. It is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States and worldwide. Even though a variety of treatment options exist, less than one-third of people receive treatment for their symptoms," Stelzer said. “Bouldering not only has strong mental components, but it is accessible at different levels so that people of all levels of physical health are able to participate.”
April 06, 2020
Janet O’Dell, RN