Dr. Joel Lavine, a successful academic and adventurer has several recommendations on “extreme” sports that can get your blood pumping and heart racing. However, he says you should learn these activities from the ground up; you shouldn’t jump straight into any of them, so you can avoid accidents and mishaps.
- Rock Climbing
There’s nothing like hanging from a sheer rock face with only your wits, a harness, and some rope keeping you there. The thrill of each extra foot you travel up the rock can only be beaten by the view from the top once you get there. Start small with a local climbing wall adventure in your gym, then move on to the great outdoors.
A good instructor for rock climbing is invaluable. Start with the instructors at your climbing gym, then ask around about instructors for climbing natural rocks outside. Ask the indoor instructors and your fellow climbers for recommendations.
If you’ve ever watched America’s Got Talent, you’ve probably seen people demonstrating their skill on the flying trapeze, or with the long hanging silks. It might surprise you to learn that there are schools all over the country where you can discover how to do the same tricks those aerialists are doing.
You start learning the techniques on the ground, then move on to higher and higher in the air, with a net below you for safety. Before you know it, you’ll be hanging from your knees, ready to launch yourself into space, trusting someone else to catch you before you hit the net.
If you think rock climbing is a rush, and you want a new challenge, it’s time to take on bouldering. Bouldering is free climbing without the safety net of a harness or rope. Most climbers use special climbing shoes to help them grip the rock and chalk to keep their hands dry when bouldering.
Indoor climbing gyms can simulate problems you’ll encounter when bouldering, including situations such as rock faces you can only climb with your upper body strength or areas where handholds and footholds are few and far between.
Once you’re used to rock climbing and bouldering, it’s time for the next level in climbing: glaciering. Using rope, harnesses, and pickaxes, you set off up the side of an actual glacier to see some truly majestic views. Joel Lavine says this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that should definitely be added to your bucket list. You may even run into some wildlife along the way. Reindeer, elk, bison, musk oxen, ibexes, mountain goats, and chamois all retreat to glaciers during the warm months so they can keep cool.
- Mountain Biking
Whether you’re a cycling novice or expert, mountain biking can add a thrill to your rides. Trails abound for all levels, from beginner to double expert. You need a bike designed for rougher terrain, to help you stay upright on the trails. You can go biking in the mountains for pure enjoyment, or you can race for glory or prizes.
It helps to do some homework on mountain bikes before you go shopping for one. You need to know what wheel size you want: 26”, 27.5”, or 29”. You should also know if you want a rigid bike with no suspension, a hardtail that only has front-end suspension, or full suspension to absorb the shock of landing after you grab air.
- Running Marathons
Running 26.2 miles is no laughing matter, and it’s definitely something you need to work up to. Fortunately, running builds up all your muscles and boosts your cardiovascular health, says Dr. Joel Lavine. Long-distance running requires stamina and the right mindset, the combination of which can be exhilarating in and of itself.
You may have heard of “runner’s high,” when you feel euphoric during your run. When you achieve that state, you’ll feel less pain after your run, which is especially important after such a long race as a marathon. You’ve got to have your mindset dialed in to reach a runner’s high.
Hiking gives you a view of nature you can’t see climbing a rock face or glacier, and that you miss from the back of a bike. Make sure to outfit yourself properly. A backpack with food and water, a change of clothes, and a first aid kit is crucial. A good walking stick or hiking poles are worth their weight in gold. Good hiking boots are a must-have. Don’t try to go hiking in sneakers.
Trails are marked according to experience level with distances usually indicated. Don’t fool yourself, though. A 3k hiking trail is vastly different from walking 3k on flat land. Just in case you run into trouble, you need your cell phone charged fully before you leave, and you may want to consider a satellite phone if the area you’re hiking in doesn’t have cell service.
If you have a burning need to feel truly alive again, try one of these seven ideas for adventure recommended by Dr. Joel Lavine. They’ll challenge you in new and exciting ways and leave you feeling truly accomplished, having conquered mother nature.
Written by Dr. Joel Lavine.
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