How do you balance risk taking, wellbeing, and living the good life when it comes to physical activity?

My friends would say I am a bit of a dare-devil.  I’ve gone skydiving, I’ve hiked tall mountains, I regularly snowboard and surf in those sport’s respective seasons.  There’s no roller coaster I would refuse to go on.  I’ve climbed out on ledges of very high places such as the Grand Canyon, and on pillars 40 feet above the rushing Columbia river just waiting to carry me away.  I’ve gone parasailing in Mexico, zip-lining in the treetops of Costa Rican jungles, and and cliff diving 30 feet up into lakes and rivers.  These kinds of things are what excites me.  I have noticed that as I get older, and I’m sorry to say, that not a lot of things get me very excited anymore.  I suppose that’s part of being an adult.  Quality over quantity.  But through my experiences, I have also realized that what keeps me ticking is the thrill of taking risks.

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Ziplining in Costa Rica

These risks, even if they might possibly compromise my health, definitely contribute to my well being.  They are what I look forward to.  When I plan a trip to do one of these activities, it’s all I can think about.  How much fun it’s going to be when I’m dangling 100 feet in the air from a parachute attached by one cable to a boat. How I can’t wait to be out of my comfort zone and put myself out there.  Try new things.  I am absolutely “Going for the Meaning” (Kretchmar, 2005), or participating in these activities because it has such an impact on my well being and my happiness.  I do these sorts of activities because they have significance in my life and I have no doubt that I will still be doing these activities for many more years to come.  However, my whole life is not one giant risk.  I actually play certain aspects very safe and am quite conservative.  But, I definitely don’t turn down an activity that has the slightest potential of being a good time because I know it will make me happy.  These activities are part of the good life because they bring value to my life.  These words of Daron Rahlves, sum up my experience.  “I’m not looking for danger. I’m in it for the challenge, my heart thumping as I finish, the feeling of being alive” (Handwerk, 2004)  This has everything to do with his well being.

Here is a link to a video that helps my argument here:

http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/word-street/extreme-sports (video will not embed)

In the video, he discusses how he enjoys nature, enjoys the freedom, and really enjoys the challenge.  His explanation goes hand in hand with my argument, we do these activities because we love it.

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Parasailing in Mexico

I also participate in these activities because they do keep me healthy.  I can’t just up and decide I want to climb Mt. San Gorgonio, I have to train for it, and physically work so that my body will be in a condition to be able to handle such a task.  These activities cause me to become healthy, so that I know my will be able to handle what I have planned for it. This quote states the benefits of participating in extreme sports: “….extreme athletes are actually better off than the rest of us. They have lower anxiety, are more independent and self-assertive and have a higher sense of reality.”  (Kircher, 2013)

So how far is too far?  I suppose that question is answered differently by different people.  But for me, I know when I feel something is too dangerous, I don’t participate.  Granted there are many activities many would consider dangerous, but I know my body’s limits and I trust myself.  I think I shy away from activity when I really don’t feel up for the challenge, which isn’t often, but I do limit myself in some respect.  However, I’ve realized that the enjoyment far outweighs the risks I take in my life.  The feeling of the wind in my face as I shred down a mountain on my snowboard, there’s no other feeling like it in the world.  And yes, I have gotten stitches from mishaps while snowboarding, but has never deterred me.  I got stitches on my chin 10 years ago while snowboarding, but I can tell you some of my best snowboarding has come after that accident.  My health was affected yes, but this had no effect on my well being.

These are the risks I take, and when they pay off, my well being is that much greater.

 

Works Cited

Handwerk, Brian, “Fear Factor: Success and Risk in Extreme Sports.” National Geographic News (2004) Web.

Kercher, Kim, “Extreme Sports Are Good for Your Health.” (2013) Web.

Kretchmar, R. Scott, “Practical Philosophy of Sport and Physical Activity.” 2nd Edition. Human Kinetics (2005): 129. Print.

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