Are Extreme Sports Good for Your Health?
People generally fall into one of two categories when it comes to extreme sports – they either love them or they avoid them at all costs.
The reason many people avoid extreme sports is clear, intense fear that we naturally try and avoid.
So when can extreme sports be good for your health? research recently published in the Journal of Health Psychology aimed to examine this relationship between extreme sports and fear.
In this article we explore participants’ experience of fear associated with participation in extreme sports
The authors discussed extreme sports as a way of defining what they are about:
Extreme sports pose challenges unheard of in other voluntary leisure activities. For instance, one person in 10 who successfully summits Mount Everest, on average, will die on the way down as a result of an accident or exhaustion
15 participants were interviewed in order to examine questions such as:
‘What is your experience of your activity?’ Follow-on prompts were used to explore more deeply aspects of participants’ experience.
The interviews were then analysed and four main themes emerged:
- experience of fear
- relationship to fear
- management of fear
- and self-transformation
The researchers found that fear played an important part in the experience of the extreme sports:
The participants in the current study describe events during which fear was experienced, recognized and in a sense transcended leading to a range of outcomes
Participants expressed a ‘state’ they experience:
These ranged from the achievement of a personal sense of mastery to a loss of sense of self and identity during which individuals describe their sense of oneness with nature.
While extreme sports have their obvious drawbacks; danger of injury or death, those who take part in extreme sports recognise a positive effect when they are able to utilise fear:
Extreme sports participants embrace fear, claim that fear is a ‘friend’ and once the ability to recognize and invite a relationship with fear is learnt, fear can be experienced as transformational.
Participants also discussed how taking part in extreme sports and facing fear had a positive effect in other aspects of their life:
Participants in this study also report that facing fear in extreme sports and learning to participate despite the intensity of the fear facilitates the management of fears in other aspects of life.
So while extreme sports may not be for everyone it’s clear to see why many take part in it, especially if it can be good for your health and general well-being.