Will mountain-climbing raise cortisol level?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 14, 2012 at 7:42 PM

I have been doing some mountain climbing lately. The sport is not only a physical challenge but also mental. You easily get stressed when climbing because of the hight. Do yo think this will raise cortisol levels? Is this a bad thing?

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on May 15, 2012
at 12:46 AM

Climbing is excellent mental training. The calmer you are, the better you climb. You learn to stay calm in stressful situations. You face daunting situations and you get through them, which is good for your self confidence and is good for building fortitude.

That attitude carries through to daily life. If everything is turning to shit at work and you have impossible deadlines, you can still remain calm because you have faced worse and got through it :)

It's possible therefore that climbing will actually reduce your day-to-day cortisol levels.

Having said that, you should only do it if you enjoy it. If you are dreading it, that's not a good sign. Don't let anyone talk you into going beyond your abilities into what you consider to be an unacceptable level of risk. Climb with safety conscious people.

Just getting out into nature is also good for stress levels I think.


on May 14, 2012
at 11:47 PM

I think that's actually a good example of stress.

The purpose for being stressed it to make sure you're super alert as you are doing something very dangerous. If you weren't stressed you wouldn't focus as much and would be at more risk or harm.

Unlike "modern stresses" the stress of climbing is short-term; only for the duration of the climbing - I imagine immediately after the danger is over you probably feel euphoric?!

I don't think there is anything wrong with the right type of stress; in fact, I actually think it's necessary to experience it once in a while.


on May 14, 2012
at 07:47 PM

Any exercise will raise cortisol levels, as will anything stressful. It's not necessarily a bad thing, as it is hormetic, ie. in the right dose it's good for you. Like anything else, make sure your lifestyle is in order, sleep is good, vitamin D levels are good, your diet is dialed in, etc... If you have those things down, then climb away! The punctuated stressors from climbing will end up being a good thing in the end, I would imagine.



on May 14, 2012
at 07:50 PM

Any stressor will elevate cortisol.

It's "bad" only if too high or too long.

If energy levels are good, then cortisol levels are likely okay, too.

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