Participating in EXTREME & Adventure Sports

Participating in extreme and adventure sports builds confidence, immerses you into nature and pumps fresh air into your lungs. Being part of this community is cool, socially acceptable and ultimately, beneficial to your mental and physical health and overall wellbeing.

An alternative style of sport has emerged over the last few decades which is overtaking many mainstream sports in terms of participation, popularity and community influence. Extreme and adventure sports (as we like to call them) have developed into a significant worldwide phenomenon with considerable social and economic impacts. The vast array of activities that fall under this bracket are revolutionising the notion of what sport, exercise and physical activity really is. 

Participation in extreme and adventure sports shares many of the same well-documented by-products as traditional sports: trust, teamwork, relationship building, inducing positive emotions, building resilience and overcoming anxiety and stress. However, the effect of extreme and adventure sports on the health and wellbeing of individuals is key to their meteoric rise. If managed effectively, participation in these sports has been described as meaningful and life-enhancing, with the potential to offer therapeutic interventions to address everyday social and psychological issues.  

The impact is especially noticeable amongst under privileged kids and those deemed “rebellious” within communities where the ‘standard system’ does not work for them. The attraction to these sports rests predominantly in the escapism offered from their realities and the ability for them to be unique, appreciated and deemed seriously cool compared to having participated in traditional sports.

We are seeing organisations emerge, such as The Far Academy, where initiatives to integrate extreme and adventure sports with other skills, such as woodwork and photography, have a profound positive transformation on the everyday life of troubled individuals, giving them a chance to succeed when others had given up on them. 

Many extreme and adventure sports require working closely and in unison with others in order to perform key functions of that sport, such as manual belaying in rock climbing, buddying up in scuba diving, or paddling as one in whitewater rafting. This inherently brings people closer together, forming personal bonds that create life lasting friendships and experiences. In addition, this social interaction has no economic or demographic prejudice either. It is not uncommon for great friendships to develop between middle-aged multi-millionaires and straight out of school travellers, simply because they share a common passion and a reliance on each other to safely participate in that sport. 

Extreme and adventure sports help you feel closer to nature and more self-aware of your surroundings. When participating in a sport that takes you to awe-inspiring locations and to the extremes of nature (such as big wave surfing at Mavericks, backcountry skiing in Whistler, or climbing El Capitan), it allows you to fully appreciate and enjoy the wonder of what the natural environment offers. This self-awareness of how small we as human beings are in the natural world, is something that is absorbing, enjoyable and desirable and induces the development of a positive relationship with the environment and ultimately builds respect for it. After all, the planet is our playground.

And given the tension between our attraction to the natural world and our recent indoor isolation (thanks to COVID-19), it is not surprising that our desire to connect with nature feels stronger now more than ever. When we do eventually get back to normality (whatever that looks like) we will be searching more for those raw, natural experiences rather than materialistic products or objects. Extreme and adventure sports are activities that deliver on these types of experiences time and time again. And when we do return to nature, let’s tread lighter.

Ben Barker, Managing Director – Extreme Destinations

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