Extreme sports are activities that go against all human instinct, yet they continue to grow in popularity. The exhilaration, skill and danger involved appeals to enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies, but what makes people become addicted to these sports?
These 4 extreme sports really aren't for the faint-hearted...


1. Urban climbing


Without ropes, harnesses or parachutes, these daredevils have scaled the outside of some of the world’s tallest buildings and bridges. This form of free climbing is highly illegal as well as extremely dangerous.

Ukrainian Mustang Wanted is famous for performing death-defying stunts – his YouTube videos show him dangling from bridges, skyscrapers, cranes and antennae, in a nonchalant manner. If you’re afraid of heights, this video isn’t easy viewing!


2. BASE jumping

The extreme sport of BASE jumping involves the participant jumping off any of the four objects that BASE stands for – building, antenna, span, earth – wearing a parachute. After a brief free-fall, the BASE jumper releases the parachute and floats to the ground. That’s the theory anyway!


3 Ski BASE jumping

Ski BASE jumping uses the same principals as BASE jumping – but the jumper skis off a cliff with a parachute on and in most cases releases the skis and lands.

Here Matthias Giraud, a famous French skier and BASE jumper, takes on The Eiger, one of the Alps’ most challenging peaks. Dodging avalanche debris, Matthias then launches himself into the North face.


4. Extreme parkour and free running


Parkour is the act of running from A to B in the most efficient way. Instead of running around the obstacle they use the object in the most efficient way by performing acrobatic stunts, climbing and vaulting off of objects and buildings in their path. The most important part of this sport is good jumping and landing techniques.

Parkour originates from a French training programme for French Special Forces and has developed over time to include the phenomenon of free running.


Extreme sports: addictive!

Joachim Vogt Isaksen has studied the psychology of extreme sports and what drives participants towards high-risk activities. Here he explains why extreme sports become physically addictive…

‘The experience of fear induced by risk may be compared to the response people have after surviving dramatic incidents such as serious illness, car accidents or traumas. People often report that these experiences change their lives. Such experiences may in the longer run lead to personal development and increased appreciation of life.

‘Dopamine is the most important nerve signal involved in drug experiences and its effect is desirable and addictive. Extreme experiences may in the same way trigger the reward system and people may feel that they are addicted to the experiences.

‘The brain will not differentiate between the degrees of safety of the activities you perform, whether it is bungee jumping or whether it is the state of being in love. What is important is whether the activity results in the release of the nerve signals involved in the brain’s reward system.’


Have you ever given any of these extreme sports a go? Let us know!