Surfers can risk drowning or getting knocked out by a wave.
Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images
The thrill of extreme sports draws in many who are looking for a little excitement. Snowboarding, surfing, skateboarding, free running and other extreme sports offer the freedom of physically and psychologically challenging yourself to perform feats that may make other athletes queasy. But many extreme sports have an element of danger beyond the risks associated with traditional sports. It is important to consider both the advantages and disadvantages of the extreme sport of your interest.
Many who participate in extreme sports claim they do it for the rush -- adrenaline rush, that is. Being in a dangerous situation triggers a release of adrenaline as a part of the fight or flight response, naturally intended to keep you out of harm's way. The adrenaline rush is marked by an elevated heart rate, dilated pupils and a change in breathing patterns. This surge of adrenaline is also accompanied by a release of endorphins and dopamine, which are associated with feelings of euphoria and pleasure. Those who participate in extreme sports chase this feeling, which they believe makes the sport more fun, and see this pleasure response as an advantage of participating in the activity.
Fun Plus Fitness
Extreme sports also provide an intense workout. Many extreme sports require you to use your full body, and as a result, can exercise multiple muscle groups at once. Extreme sports also push your body's limits, so they can help you burn calories and lose weight. For example, skateboarding for an hour can burn up to 500 calories while also improving your balance, flexibility, endurance and muscle strength. Because extreme sports are exciting, they are an easy way to get in a workout without feeling the dread of going to the gym.
A Trip to the Hospital
Although thrill-seekers crave the danger associated with extreme sports, the risk of injury is profound. It can be argued that injury is a possibility when participating in any sport. But the heights, distances and speeds that come with extreme sports drastically increase the severity of injuries that can be incurred. Those who participate in these types of activities risk broken bones, head trauma and even death. According to the United States Parachuting Association, about 21 people die every year from skydiving. Although this equates to a relatively low chance of death, it is still higher than other traditional sports.
Tickets and Trouble
Many extreme sports have been widely accepted and have designated venues for athletes to hone their skills and compete. This is the case with the X Games as well as the Olympic sports of skiing, bobsledding, snowboarding and others. But those who use public areas or private property as their field of play can get into trouble with the law. Skateboarders often risk getting tickets when performing stunts in parking lots or are asked to leave when skateboarding at parks and schools. Free runners can also get into trouble with business owners and police officers for jumping off of buildings, ledges and hand rails. For some, the thrill is not worth the trouble.