The Psychology Behind Why People Love Extreme Sports
Life Style

The Psychology Behind Why People Love Extreme Sports


Enthusiastic, adrenaline junkie, and adrenaline rush, are words we are all familiar with. Either we are that person who loves an activity with an adrenal rush or we know someone who is an adrenaline junkie and engages in risky or extreme sports. Some people think “No way, I’ll do that”, but on the other hand, there are people who think that you only live once, and you should experience everything once, even if it is a risky sport.

What, then, is the attraction to extreme adventure? Do explorers have any personality qualities in common? Do they simply handle fear differently than the rest of us, or do they simply feel less fear than the rest of us? 

“To feel the rush”, why do people enjoy the thrill behind Extreme Sports?

Some say that brain chemistry and the role of hormones is behind why people enjoy the thrill of extreme sports. The release of adrenaline and dopamine, which can help increase focus and clarity can be contributing factors as to why people indulge in such sports activities. These hormones Can be the reason why people feel good after engaging in such sports and how they overcome fear. A sense of well-being can be attributed to high dopamine levels.

There is also a sense of accomplishment and pride attached to achieving things, that normally people are unable to do. Be it jumping from an aeroplane, scuba-diving, mountain climbing, bungee jumping, et cetera. People may feel that they have achieved something and conquered a challenge, which wasn’t easy to do, in that way, extreme sports and conquering them provide self-confidence.

Many people who engage in such sports are also nature enthusiasts and they indulge in risky behaviour because they want to be close to nature in its true form. Paragliding is one such example. In this, nature can be a powerful motivator.

According to Assistant Professor, Dr. Tanu Kukreja, “Any kind of extreme behaviour can lead to trouble. It’s the balance that aligns physical and mental health, while extremes can deviate us from this equilibrium. Sometimes, extremes are necessary to achieve certain goals, but in sports, we need to evaluate whether our actions are balanced. We must consider if we genuinely desire something or if we’re simply pushing past the boundaries of control. Maintaining control is essential.”

Usually, people live their 9 to 5 monotonous lives with no adventure or thrill. So participating in extreme sports can be an escape from that monotonous and boring life into an interesting one full of thrill and joy. They may participate in such activities as a way to unwind from the so-called “reality” and live life how they want it, even if it’s dangerous.

Influence of extreme sports on mental health

Extreme sports are a route to mental resilience rather than just being a means of obtaining thrills. Often perceived only as an Adrenaline rush, activities, and thrilling sports also have a profound impact on the mental health and well-being of the individual. Such activities demand undivided attention and complete focus of the individual and hence they help improve Cognitive abilities, concentration levels, and Mindfulness.

They can be a great source to alleviate Signs and symptoms of stress and anxiety as well

  • Participating in extreme sports with someone, be it, your partner or a friend can help strengthen that connection and build cohesiveness. Social bonding and a sense of community are increased When people think that they are not alone and they have someone to share that experience with. 
  • Just like in meditation, extreme sports require a high level of focus, attention and mindfulness towards them. Thus, they help with becoming more aware of one’s environment and develop increased concentration and focus in daily life activities as well.
  • Engagement in such sports can lead people to experience a ‘flow’ state. During the flow state, individuals may truly indulge themselves in a task they are doing, ignoring everything around them, which provides a sense of comfort and euphoria. This state can be too intense and people may forget where they are and only attend to what is in front of them. This flow state can provide satisfaction and happiness after going through the activities of an extreme sport.
  • A sense of freedom and personal growth are also attached to experiencing thrill-seeking sports. People may feel free or liberated from everyday stressors which may allow them to escape their reality. In doing so, they develop resilience, Adaptability, and flexibility to face daily challenges and hence foster personal growth.
  • Accomplishing hurdles and challenges faced during extreme sports can help build confidence and overcome fear in an individual. They provide a sense of accomplishment and fulfilment, leading to the overall growth of a person. 

It is believed that feelings such as Time, standing still, floating in the air, flying, freedom, and expanding sensory abilities are some which are associated with experiences of extreme sports. Not only is it a trans-state for some but a way of escaping from everyday life. Some associate independence, directing life how they want it Which ultimately provides them peace.

According to Psychologist Upasana Soni, Head of Department and Associate Psychology Editor, “Exercise is crucial because it helps release beneficial hormones and decrease those that can negatively impact happiness and other emotions. Regarding sports, the concept of an “adrenaline junkie” is often discussed. While it’s possible to link this to mental health, caution is needed. Relating it to conditions like manic behaviour or ADHD might be seen as controversial or questionable. It might be better to avoid making that connection when discussing the topic in the same article.”

Call it Escape, freedom, or thrill, one’s safety is in one’s own hands and it is important to remember that taking such activities for granted can lead to unfavourable consequences. It is better to take precautions, follow instructions and safety procedures before indulging in any such activity and get help from the experts.

References +
  • extreme sports and psychology. (2020, March 14). Psychology Info.
  • 𝓣𝓸𝓭𝓪𝔂�. (2024, February 14). The psychology behind extreme sports: more than just an adrenaline rush. Medium.
  • Why are people drawn to extreme sports? (n.d.).,you%20can%20in%20everyday%20life.

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