A hot item on almost every bucket list, skydiving involves flying in a plane to elevations between 3,500 and 22,000 feet only to jump out and freefall for a few moments before softly floating back down to earth post parachute pull. What sounds like a nightmare to some is a dream to others. Regardless of your perception of skydiving, the sport comes with some genuine health benefits.
#1 Stress Relief
First and foremost, skydiving is fun! If it weren’t fun, then people wouldn’t do such an extreme thing willingly. Getting caught up in our day-to-day lives is so commonplace that we’ve created a term to snap ourselves out of it: “work-life balance.” When I start to overload my life with responsibilities, I remind myself that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Too much stress built up can lead to serious health issues like stomach ulcers, stroke, and heart disease. We MUST take time to play and live life– when your life starts to get too convoluted, take to the skies to blow off some steam and relieve some stress.
It’s hard to believe that anyone can walk away from skydiving in a crummy mood. The nature of the activity is incredibly exhilarating and liberating, which is precisely what people are seeking when they are trying to escape from boredom, depression, or negative patterns. Doing an activity like skydiving or any extreme activity floods your brain with chemicals that make you feel amazing.
The changes in brain chemistry cause your mood to dramatically improve, instantly. The combination of adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin creates some of the most extremely positive emotional experiences possible- like falling in love or successfully accomplishing a huge goal.
#3 Overcoming Anxiety
The fear of flying, heights, and death–all factors of skydiving– are included in the world’s top 10 fears. For this reason, skydiving is such a big fear for many people. Just getting up to such a high elevation to jump out of a perfectly good airplane is an accomplishment in and of itself. However, if you can muster up the courage to jump, then it can be a healthy activity for your psyche– once you confront and beat this fear, you can begin to tackle the others.
#4 Challenging Yourself
It’s not every day someone goes skydiving. Pushing yourself to get out of your comfort zone is very beneficial to your health. The only way to improve as a person is to challenge yourself and increase your range of skills, strengths, efforts and more. We all want to perform at the highest level we possibly can, and there is no better way to get there than skydiving.
Stepping out of your comfort zone can help your body become happier and healthier, but it will do the same for your mind. Through the altering of brain chemistry, physical activity, and confidence building, your mental strength will grow stronger each time you decide to jump.
Performing a feat this extreme is no walk in the park: it requires practice, discipline, but most of all it demands an immense amount of confidence. Even if your level of self-confidence isn’t precisely where it should be (high!), post-skydiving will have you walking around with the swagger of Conor McGregor.
You’ll be able to say that you jumped from 10,000+ feet in the air and lived! The sheer magnitude of the activity is not something to scoff at, and the ability to conquer it is a very proud moment that lasts a lifetime.
#6 Self Care
It’s far too easy to get caught up in our daily lives– whether it be work, school, family, or whatever else demanding our time and attention. Sometimes we need a little escape from the grind just to reset our brains and bodies. It is very healthy to take mini-vacations to ensure that your stress levels don’t build up too much. When you’re freefalling through the sky, it becomes impossible to think about work emails, deadlines, or anything else related to the real world.
Although the activity itself may only take just a few minutes if you’re doing a tandem or hours if you are a licensed skydiver, the results are tremendous for your mental health. Ideally, skydiving in somewhere like Hawaii would really hit the spot, but anywhere will do. Some people take a spa day to reset, but skydiving–regardless of the setting– will do the trick just as well. And let’s face it: no one has ever talked about a facial or massage treatment years later.
#7 Physical Fitness
It doesn’t take much to explain why physical exercise is beneficial for the body and the mind, but it isn’t necessarily the first thing you think of when you hear the word “skydiving.” But maybe you should reconsider, it isn’t called a sport for nothing.
First of all, lugging around a giant parachute is not easy– it weighs a LOT. Once you’re up in the air and have jumped out of the plane, the “belly-to-earth” position that skydiving requires is not a natural bodily position. This position puts a strain on your back and builds muscle. After you’ve deployed your parachute, you need to steer where you want to go, which requires upper body strength to guide this enormous piece of material that is being controlled by nature.
Burning calories isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you plan a skydiving trip. However, you can burn up to 230 calories per hour during the activity. Some skydivers continually go up in planes and jump out all day long– skydivers can make up to 16+ jumps in just one day. Imagine all the calories burned by people having a great time! Overall, skydiving is great exercise.
#8 Improved Cardiovascular Health
As you can imagine, jumping from a plane can affect your heart. Because of the sudden burst of adrenaline, your blood pressure and circulation increase very quickly, which is actually healthy for your heart. This action increases the oxygen levels in your bloodstream, creating a healthier environment for supporting organ functions.
Not only will your internal organs be healthier but the largest organ in the body, your skin, benefits as well. With increased blood pressure and circulation, your skin can fight off bacteria and infections much more quickly, resulting in healthier-looking skin and improved immune function.
#9 Better Relationships
People who have close friends are scientifically proven to live healthier, longer lives than people who don’t. One thing that you probably never thought about skydiving is how much people depend on each other in the sport. You rely on the expertise and support of pilots, instructors, packers, and trainers to get you from the ground, into the air, and down again.
Whether you are just crossing it off your bucket list or you become a serious competitive skydiver, the relationships you build in the sport can help you build a new community and a better attitude towards your existing community.
#10 Increased Gratitude
Having gratitude is one of the things that separates happy people from unhappy people, and happiness positively correlates to health. When you’re 10,000+ feet up in the sky, it’s very easy to take a whole different approach to life because you’re literally seeing the world from another point of view.
Life is so fragile, and with an activity that is as seemingly dangerous as skydiving, there is always a possibility of something going wrong and life slipping right through your hands. However, that is the case with most things (driving, flying, swimming). The chance of an accident skydiving is minimal, but the fear of death, the view from the plane, and the adrenaline, all make you feel alive and eager to come back for more.
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