Extreme sports and good health aren’t the most traditional of bedfellows; there isn’t much healthy about plummeting off a cliff with just a piece of (admittedly very strong) string to support you, for example, or knocking out all your teeth while trying to nail a boardslide down a handrail on your skateboard. As a way of keeping fit, extreme sports probably aren’t most people’s first choice.
Factor in the costs associated with pursuing extreme activities (such as jetting off across the world to find a good mountain to climb up) and the sheer terror that comes with activities such as hurtling down a mountain at 200mph strapped to a piece of wood and even the thought of taking up an extreme sport as a way of getting regular exercise is probably enough to get you cowering behind the treadmill.
However, extreme sports needn’t be costly and – whisper it – they don’t even have to be that scary either. There are quite a few extreme sports that require a minimal of effort and money that could improve your health in much the same way an hour on the treadmill could.
So if you’re bored of carrying out the same old gym routine, why not try…
Say ‘rollerblading’ to anyone and the chances are they’ll talk of bikini-clad beauties skating down beach fronts – nice to look at, but not exactly extreme.
However, rollerblading (or aggressive inline, to give it its slightly less catchy moniker) actually belongs to the same school of extreme pursuits as skateboarding and BMX’ing. Saunter down to your local skatepark and you’re bound to see some brave young soul with a pair of wheeled boots strapped to their feet, skating around at impossible speeds and doing impossible flips and tricks.
That young soul, apart from being brave, is probably also very healthy. Skating around is great for your cardio-vascular health, while the motions involved in pushing yourself forward on skates is also provides your leg muscles with a good workout. While arguably not as beneficial as running, skating is much more fun and also allows for the possibility of impressing your friends with a sick grind or two.
If you fancy learning some tricks, look no further than YouTube for tuition. Maybe avoid the technical stuff for now though…
Then again, why fork out for a pair of rollerblades when you can just use your feet? Parkour, if you aren’t aware, is an extreme sport that involves running around and jumping off things. Which doesn’t sound too extreme until you consider that those ‘things’ include skyscrapers and soccer stadiums. You might have also seen the father of Parkour offshoot ‘freerunning’ Sebastian Foucan fighting Daniel ‘James Bond’ Craig in ‘Casino Royale’.
Parkour is a sport you can more or less do anywhere – although this writer recommends you stick to skateparks, actual parks and public property rather than private property – and provides an intense workout for the whole body. The running part obviously works the legs and improves cardio, while the act of leaping and grabbing ledges can also improve your upper body strength.
The average paintball game is basically a simulation of war replacing bullets with pellets of paint, making it the perfect workout for the Call of Duty enthusiast who would rather spend their days fragging noobs than down the gym pumping iron.
The obvious health benefit of a game of paintball is from all the running you’ll be doing trying to dodge those surprisingly painful pellets. However, paintball also provides something of a mental workout, working the brain as you try to come up with a strategy to not get hit by said pellets, and giving your reactions a spin too. The release of adrenaline paintball provides also makes it a heart-racing health alternative.
So there you have it, three extreme alternatives to traditional exercise that could seriously improve your health. Do remember, though, that all of these sports have inherent dangers such as bone breakages and muscle strains, so make sure to warm up properly beforehand and wear the appropriate safety equipment. Most importantly of all, have fun!
Chris Smith is an extreme sports enthusiast who prefers skate ramps to treadmills. He currently writes for Pure O2, a company specialising in oxygen equipment and health advice for sufferers of respiratory conditions.