I've been a rock climber for about 25 years, and long before I was diagnosed with ADHD I noted how much better I felt in terms of my mental health and performance when I was climbing on a regular basis. In looking at the climbing community overall it seemed that I wasn't the only one that was using climbing to help deal with stress, emotional regulation, etc. It wasn't that people just liked to climb, it's that they NEEDED to climb.

This triggered my curiosity so I went digging into what research has been done. Below is my summary of several study abstracts that I found related to ADHD and rock climbing.

What is ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Finding activities that cater to the unique needs of individuals with ADHD can be challenging, but rock climbing has emerged as a promising option for both children and adults. In this blog post, we'll explore the various benefits rock climbing offers to individuals with ADHD, helping them develop essential skills and improve their overall well-being.

Physical Exercise and Energy Channeling

One of the key characteristics of ADHD is hyperactivity, which often manifests as an abundance of energy. Rock climbing provides a constructive outlet for this energy, allowing individuals to engage in a physically demanding and rewarding activity. The sport combines strength, endurance, and coordination, offering a full-body workout that can help improve overall fitness while channeling excess energy in a positive direction.

Improved Focus and Concentration

Climbing requires intense focus and concentration as climbers navigate their way up a route, planning each move and adapting to obstacles. This demand for mental engagement can be particularly beneficial for individuals with ADHD, as it encourages them to develop and practice their attention skills in a stimulating environment. As climbers become more adept at maintaining focus during their ascents, they may find it easier to apply these skills to other areas of their lives, leading to improvements in daily functioning and academic performance.

Stress Reduction and Emotional Regulation

Physical activity, such as rock climbing, has been shown to reduce stress and promote emotional well-being. As climbers engage in problem-solving and movement, they can enter a meditative state known as "flow," which is characterized by complete absorption in the task at hand. This state can help alleviate anxiety and boost mood, providing a sense of calm and relaxation. For individuals with ADHD who often struggle with emotional regulation, rock climbing can be a valuable tool for managing stress and promoting emotional balance.

Enhanced Self-Esteem and Confidence

Successfully completing a climb can provide a significant sense of accomplishment and self-satisfaction. For individuals with ADHD who may experience difficulties in other aspects of their lives, building confidence through rock climbing can be incredibly empowering. As climbers set and achieve personal goals, they develop a greater sense of self-efficacy, which can have a positive impact on their overall self-esteem and confidence in other areas of life.

Social Interaction and Teamwork

Rock climbing can be a social activity that offers opportunities for individuals with ADHD to develop friendships and practice teamwork. Climbing gyms and outdoor climbing communities often foster a supportive and inclusive atmosphere, where climbers can share advice, encouragement, and camaraderie. For those who struggle with social interactions, the common passion for climbing can serve as an icebreaker, helping them build connections and practice communication skills in a relaxed setting.

Developing Resilience and Perseverance

Climbing can be challenging, and it often involves setbacks and failures. However, these obstacles present an opportunity for individuals with ADHD to develop resilience and perseverance. As climbers learn to embrace failure as a natural part of the process, they can cultivate a growth mindset and develop the determination needed to overcome challenges both on and off the wall.


Rock climbing offers a unique blend of physical, mental, and emotional benefits that can be particularly advantageous for individuals with ADHD. From improving focus and concentration to fostering resilience and social skills, climbing can be a transformative experience for both children and adults with ADHD. Whether you're new to the sport or an experienced climber, consider embracing the world of rock climbing as a way to support personal growth and well-being for those with ADHD.

Further Reading

The Impact of an Adapted Climbing Program on Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Effects of therapeutic climbing activities wearing a weighted vest on a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a case study

Guiding and Instruction

If you are in the Calgary, Alberta region then reach out to Vertical Horizon Guiding as they provide guiding and courses structured for both children and adults on the ADHD / Autism Spectrum.