Being over 55 does not condemn you to a future of lawn bowls, aqua aerobics or croquet. You’re still youthful, healthy and adventurous for a few decades yet, for goodness sake! Intrepid mature folk just like you are increasingly indulging their inner adrenaline junkie by taking up adventure sports, or extreme sports. So, what’s stopping you, and how can you give your urge for adventure a spin?
What is an adventure sport?
For the purpose of this article, I’m defining an adventure sport as any physical challenge or sport indulged in as a leisure activity that requires professional safety equipment and is best learned under instruction from a trained, certified or highly experienced professional.
While adventure sports are not for everyone, trying one at least once in your lifetime can give you an incredible shot of self-achievement or an epiphany you’ll reflect back on often.
Why are adventure sports great for your health?
Research has shown us time and time again, that any activity that challenges you by stretching you mentally or physically in positive ways is great for your mental health. Adventure sports open up opportunities to try something brand new and break out of your day to day. You can also learn a lot about yourself, and other people, from participating in an activity that inspires some fear or a sense of risk.
Even after a lapsed decade of scuba diving, I’ll never forget how empowering it felt to finally conquer one of my biggest fears – and enjoy the experience. Even today, when I experience a stressful moment in my life, I often remind myself to ‘just breathe’ – a powerful insight I gained from completing an Open Water Dive certificate.
Indulging our bodies in a natural adrenaline rush that opens up our airways and gets our circulation flowing ready for a certain release of energy has to be good for us!
What’s stopping you from trying your next adventure?
Perhaps the most obvious – and entirely rational blocker, is fear. Fear is an emotional response that protects you, and stops you from doing something life threatening. Feeling fearful of getting horizontal over a cliff top and depending on a rope to get us to safer ground is perfectly rational. Adventure sports are designed to help us face our fear front on, with the support of safety equipment and professional encouragement and support. So park that fear!
Adventure sports that turn into hobbies have a reputation for being expensive pursuits. Don’t think about that right now. You don’t know if you’re going to love an adventure sport until you try it at least once. So park the worry of future costs, and consider indulging in a one off adventure for now.
Here are six adventure sports that you can try with the comfort and security of an experienced instructor. Add one or more to your next gift wish list.
Do check in with your General Practitioner (GP) beforehand, just to be sure that your cardiovascular system is ready to deal with the adrenaline rush. And make sure you’re okay with your insurance cover too! I’m not saying trying an adventure sport is without risk.
6 adventure sports to try that could turn into a healthy addiction
Try Scuba Diving
You don’t have to enrol for a full blown certified scuba diving course just to try it. Most professional dive clubs or dive centres will offer a ‘try dive’ experience with an experienced, professional instructor. Yes, it can feel unnatural and frightening for those with even the slightest tendency to claustrophobia. Believe me the reward is well worth embracing the fear and giving it a go. It is incredibly peaceful and dream like reaching zero gravity in an underwater landscape. The most important thing to remember is to relax and simply breathe and take in the magic beneath the waterline. In a ‘try dive’ scenario in Australia, you’re unlikely to be taken to a depth of more than 12 metres. And keep in mind, you’ll be with an experienced professional that can spring into action should the need arise.
Try Tandem Hang-gliding or Paragliding
I think most of us have dreamed of being able to fly at some stage in our lives. A one off hang gliding or paragliding experience with an experienced, professional instructor is a great way to truly fly! I still recall the day I tried one a tandem hang glide (finally!) in Byron Bay. My eldest son was only a toddler at the time and all I could hear as we ran over the edge of the cliff was ‘Mummmmmmmy…!’ Parent guilt kicked in momentarily until I realised I was finally indulging in one of my dreams. I loved every minute. It was all I imagined it to be and more. The instructor even offered for me to take control for a bit, and I felt comfortable trying it with his experienced guidance.
Getting horizontal over a cliff’s edge is the hardest part of abseiling and it is mostly self-talk that causes people to freeze up. Once you’ve started scaling down the pleasure that comes with adventure kicks in. With an experienced abseiling instructor guiding you, and encouraging you every step of the way, you can finally satisfy the urge to climb a rock face! Of course you could simply take it indoors to an indoor climbing centre, but an outdoor experience feels far more intrepid.
There are loads of abseiling adventures being offered online. The Australian School Of Mountaineering is a great website to explore.
Try Stand Up Paddleboarding
Our coastline and water ways are filling up with Stand Up Paddleboarders (SUP). That’s because it is accessible for all abilities and isn’t hard to learn – it looks far more adventurous than what it can be. With supping you can make it as adventurous or as conservative as you choose. Taking a paddle on a bay beach or up a creek or river on a calm day is a pretty relaxing way to travel on the water. But if you want to step up the adventure quotient, you can take a SUP into a surf break instead! Every great beach around Australia offers group or one on one lessons. Give it a go!
Try Kite Surfing
Far more intrepid than supping on calm water is kite surfing. If you love the idea of being powered over water by wind, then kite surfing is well worth a try. Most popular beaches known for being exposed to windier conditions, will have a kite surfing professional eager to teach you their passion.
Parkour is the stuff of stunt people. If you’ve ever dreamed of jumping from rooftop to rooftop, or tumbling skilfully down concrete stairs, parkour is the sport of choice for you! It is true that such gymnastic prowess does call for a reasonable level of fitness and flexibility. Increasingly parkour instructors are offering classes for seniors.
For more information on Parkour in Australia, visit the Australian Parkour Association.