By Joanna Mazewski

For a lot of moms who focus on getting their bodies back after giving birth, more often than not they tend to neglect another part that doesn’t get as much attention as their newly acquired love handles or post-baby belly: their brains. There’s a new report that says moms are encouraged to do just as much about their mental healthiness as they do about their physical health. Believe it or not, the best workout for the brain is rock climbing. Here’s why.

For many busy moms, they might associate rock climbing with one of two things: an extreme sport best performed by professionals somewhere in the Colorado Rockies or an indoor activity for kids at bounce house parties. Rock climbing is an activity in which participants climb up, down or across natural rock formations or artificial rock walls. It’s also a physically and mentally demanding sport, one that often tests a climber’s strength, endurance, agility and balance along with mental control.

In other words, it’s also something that many moms might need, especially if they are having post-natal brain fuzziness or an inability to focus during the day. After all, many moms – whether they work in or outside of the home – find themselves overwhelmed both physically and mentally with all of their day-to-day tasks and work and home obligations.

Now, studies show that not climbing can be beneficial to both the brain and mental health. According to a new report, rock climbing is known to reduce stress and have positive outcomes on mental strength.

Pete Rohleder, a kinesiologist at Georgia State University, tells CNN, “That perceptual or cognitive aspect — the decision-making, the planning, the strategizing — puts a unique physical and mental challenge on the climber. Climbing’s combination of mental and physical challenges reinforce those neural pathways that can enhance our movement, enhance our cognitive function and make it much easier to attain goals.”

Rock climbing is a great mental health exercise, but don’t look at it as a way to lose weight. Depending on the intensity of the climb, you could burn up to 300 or 500 calories in a half-hour climb. But keep in mind that rock climbing is a full-body workout, and you’ll need the power of your glutes, along with your leg muscles, to propel yourself upward.

So the next time you find yourself at an indoor bounce house party, but those climbing shoes on and take advantage of the rock climbing wall. Even a quick 10-minute session can go a long way and yes, make you feel mentally sharper at the end of the day.

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