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Why Extreme Sports Are The Ultimate Mental Health Boost

Here's a look at how entrepreneurs benefit from extreme sports and tap into the ultimate mental health boost.

Believe it or not, there is a connection between extreme sports and business success. A survey from Moneypenny discovered that 50% of senior executives have participated in extreme sports.

There appears to be a correlation between folks who like to take risks in the boardroom and those who take risks in general. In some ways it makes sense, being an entrepreneur comes with plenty of stress so why not unwind with the endorphin rushes that extreme sports bring? Let’s look at how you can benefit from extreme sports bringing the ultimate mental health boost.


Boost your self-confidence

To be able to succeed in business it’s important to have self-confidence. After all, if you don’t believe in what you are doing then how can you expect others to get behind you? That’s where extreme sports enter the conversation.

Regularly partaking in extreme and adrenaline-pumping sports, from ice climbing, skiing, and surfing to parkour and paragliding helps to boost confidence in your abilities. Being able to criss-cross down a mountain on two planks without breaking your leg feels like a great achievement once you make it.

Once you know you can do something like that then some everyday situations we find ourselves in afterward feel much easier to achieve. “The focus on risk is negative but extreme sports are fulfilling, health-enhancing, and about connecting with nature,” says adventure psychologist Eric Brymer.

Increased self-confidence is just one of the positive effects on your mental health. Here are some more:

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Improved mood and mental resilience
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Less stress
  • Enhanced self-esteem
  • Increased productivity


Reduce your fears

Fear of failure is typically the reason why many people don’t even take any risk in the first place. Research shows that self-sabotage can arise through fear. “It isn’t uncommon for people who fear failure to engage in acts of self-handicapping that undermine their own chances of success,” Kendra Cherry of Very Well Mind discusses.

Fortunately, there are ways to overcome such fears by regularly enjoying extreme sports.

“Your brain won’t let you put your body in positions it doesn’t trust you in, and it uses pain as a warning because it thinks you’re going to put tissue in danger”, says parkour expert team STORROR. “We can build more range by building the trust of the brain, assuring it that it’s safe and strong in deeper positions”.

Given that fear is a built-in inhibitor for our actions, reducing those fears and being able to live in the moment helps us experience more from life.


Lower your stress

Research by Crunch Accounting shows that 76% of small business owners experience “exceptional” levels of stress due to the economic climate. For some, stress is just a part of life they feel as though they have to learn to accept.

However, while stress is often inevitable, especially when running your own business, there are ways you can reduce it. Adventure sports help reduce stress for several reasons but largely thanks to the release of endorphins. These chemicals in the brain act as natural painkillers and also improve your ability to sleep, which reduces the stress levels in your body.

Photo: Melvin Wahlin, YFS Magazine, Pexels
Photo: Melvin Wahlin, YFS Magazine

Another benefit of extreme sports is putting yourself amongst nature. Being in nature reduces feelings of burnout, anger, fear, and stress plus it’s great for your body too. Your blood pressure reduces, heart rates relax and the production of stress hormones is decreased when in the great outdoors. Humans are programmed to find natural elements and features engrossing, helping to distract us from any pain or discomfort we may be feeling.


Improve your team-building skills

Whether you are introverted or extroverted, humans rely upon social interaction for happiness. That might be an opportunity to meet many people at the same time, or a one-to-one conversation.

Due to the risks involved, extreme sports often cannot be done alone in case someone has an accident. That requires at least one buddy to have your adventures with, helping to strengthen your bond with each other.

Extreme sports also help improve your team-building skills as they require coordination of your movements to make sure everyone comes back in one piece. For instance, if you are white water rafting you need your whole team to work together to battle the currents, and that requires a leader of the crew. Other extreme sports like skateboarding provide a sense of community and a chance to develop bonds with those who you master new tricks alongside.


Improve your ability to overcome mistakes and setbacks

Mistakes are an everyday occurrence and they can often be used as a lesson, although for other people they are a reason to want the world to swallow them up. They are also quite common in extreme sports, and if they weren’t then how extreme are these sports we’re talking about?

Extreme sports enthusiasts are often people willing to make mistakes to learn more about themselves, challenge themselves, and improve their skill set. Falling over when learning to ski isn’t a reason to give up, it’s just part of the rocky road to mastering the sport. The same can be applied to business, where mistakes can be costly but they also provide invaluable lessons on the road to success.

For every successful idea, there are tons of failed ones in the rubbish heap. Ninety-five percent of new products fail. And 90% of startup companies never make it, according to Tom Puthiyamadam, a consulting commercial leader. Being able to develop a thicker skin to failure allows you to take more risks and have fewer setbacks when things don’t go your way.


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