Self Esteem and Mountaineering


Saeid Bahaeloo-Horeh, MD; Shervin Assari, MD

Introduction.—Despite ample evidence in the literature of the correlation between sports participation in general and self-esteem, there is a dearth of information regarding the probable impact of specific sporting activities on self-concept. We, therefore, sought to assess the effect of mountaineering on self-esteem and its correlates in university students.

Methods.—This longitudinal study recruited 54 students (male 26%, female 74%) from different universities in the capital city of Iran, Tehran. The students participated in a mountaineering program in Mt. Damavand in July 2006. The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES), SF-36, and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) were completed by all the participants before and after this activity. Their demographic data and mountaineering experience were also collected.

Results.—Mean RSES after climbing was significantly higher than before the experience (24.78 ± 2.4 vs. 23.67 ± 3.3; P = .002). Self-esteem was correlated with bodily pain, and its improvement was correlated with mental health and depression (P < .05). Self-esteem and its improvement were not significantly correlated with age, sex, marital status, prior personal and family history of mountaineering, past history of mountain sickness, and reaching the summit (P > .05).

Conclusion.—This study showed that participation in a single mountaineering program improved students' sense of self-esteem. We suggest that taking up this activity might have benefits for students with depression.