Posts tagged ‘Extreme Sports’

October 11, 2012

The Allure of Extreme Sports Part 2: The Emotional Side of Adrenaline, By: Aziza Kendrick

After her first time standing up on a surfboard, Aziza Kendrick reported that she felt invincible, even though it was only for a few seconds. This is an example of the emotional effect of adrenaline, which entices extreme athletes to come back for more.

When participating in an extreme activity such as mountain biking, the body is put under stress, and there is a measurable physical response. The adrenal gland releases a number of hormones including epinephrine, otherwise known as adrenaline. This hormone causes the heart rate to speed up, increases blood flow to the brain and muscles, and facilitates energy creation in the liver, which converts glycogen to glucose. The emotion that results from this physical response is a heightened sense of being alive.

With this feeling comes an elevated awareness of surroundings and a singular focus on the task at hand. Rock climbers report that when they are climbing a difficult route, all other mental distractions melt away and the only thing present in their mind is the moves right before them. Extreme athletes love the feel of this rush, and can even become addicted to it, which keeps them pushing the boundaries of their sport.

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September 24, 2012

The Allure of Extreme Sports – Part 1: A Sense of Identity, By Aziza Kendrick

A skier, surfer, rock climber, and racquetball player, Aziza Kendrick is familiar with the draw of adrenaline-filled sports. Here she explores the reasons why people push themselves in difficult, dangerous activities.

What motivates people to pursue hobbies, such as backcountry skiing, that are physically taxing, technically difficult, and potentially life threatening? Researchers have found that people who participate in extreme sports are very goal oriented. Whether that goal is riding a huge wave or reaching the top of a tricky, technical route on a rock face, these athletes usually have clearly defined goals and a sense of self-competition that inspires them.

Other characteristics uniting extreme athletes is a desire for respect and a personal identity related to these activities. Though there are very few base jumpers, people who run off high cliffs and soar near the ground before pulling a parachute, the community of those who love the sport is very close-knit.

When an athlete perceives herself as a surfer, it motivates her to surf more. The more she surfs, the better she becomes, and the more respect she receives from the surfing community. This respect and acceptance is self-validating and satisfying, something all humans yearn for, and is in abundance in extreme-sport communities.