A lighthearted look at the heaviest and most extreme action sports on the planet.
Adrenaline and Extreme Sports
Anyone who has ever been involved with sports or outdoor activities has felt what a rush of adrenaline does to the human body and mind. The elation that comes from bowling a strike, scoring a goal, sinking a putt, skiing in powder, riding a wave or even tossing a swish in cornhole, keeps you coming back for more.
And why not? Adrenaline provides other benefits like increased focus, temporary pain block, antioxidant boost and improved vision resulting from dilation of the pupils.
For some, the heightened state of physical and mental alertness that adrenaline creates, also known as the body’s fight-or-flee response, can be addictive. Thus, we have the term “adrenaline junkie”. We can mostly thank these thrill-seekers, and GoPro, for pushing the envelope of what is humanly possible to create a plethora of mind-bending extreme sports.
A typical exercise-induced adrenaline “rush”, probably seems more like an adrenaline trickle compared to extreme sport participants. But that’s OK. Take pride in knowing that you are sampling the same biological serum, just on a less death-defying level.
Here is a look at some of the most out-of-your-mind things our species has gotten into.
Go Big Or Go Home: The Top Extreme Sports
The Wright Brothers were pretty radical for their time. Piloting their aircraft for 12 seconds, covering 852 feet, off the dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, that first flight pretty much changed the world. But if they had YouTube back then and saw a video of a flying squirrel, things could have turned out a lot differently.
Wingsuit pilots launch off cliffs, mountain tops, helicopters, and airplanes. There is even a slalom course race organized by Red Bull. Hitting top speeds of 200 mph, Wingsuiting is obviously crazy dangerous and was recently voted the sport you are least likely to tell your Mom you are going to do.
1 breath. 700 feet. That’s the world record for no-limit free diving. Which means the diver is pulled quickly to the depth by a machine on a cable. Freedivers have been recorded lowering their heart rate to 14 bpm.
There a variety of freediving disciplines as well, with fins, no fins, with and without weights, dynamic apnea, etc. Oh, and Static apnea. That’s where you basically do the dead-man float for as long as you can. Although, not a huge spectator sport, Static also has to go into the extreme category, with a standing world record of 11 minutes, 35 seconds.
Big Wave Riding
Really big wave riding. Like 50+ foot waves that only happen at a few spots a few times a year. The kind of event that jolts the couple dozen surfers in the world who have the ability to catch these monsters, to hop an overnight flight from wherever to get a chance at even catching just one.
Sure there are plenty more people who have utilized a jet ski to get towed into a world record size wave. That requires skill and guts for sure. But the crew that paddles themselves into a wave that jacks up 4 stories high, making the commitment to push over the edge of a mountain of water are who we are talking about. With massive risks of wiping out, being held under and thrashed around like a rag doll and not getting to the surface before the next wave explodes on their heads and pins them under for another drag along the reef. Gnarly.
Find Your Own Extreme
Extreme sports are for a rare breed of athlete. Living vicariously through their jaw-dropping feats may create all the adrenaline you really need. But it is always fun and not to mention good for you, to push the limits once in a while.
Try something a little-of-the-box to keep challenging yourself. If you are a road runner or biker, give the trails a try. Or maybe you are a rower that sticks to flatwater river courses. Giving coastal or open water rowing a go may really float your boat.