How Ziplining and Other Thrilling Activities Are Good for Your Health
“The adrenaline and stress of an adventure are better than a thousand peaceful days.”
Heart pounding, hair standing on end, all five senses full throttle, you’ve never felt more alive than during an adrenaline rush. Part of our ancient “fight or flight” programming from the days when humans weren’t at the top of the food chain, our adrenaline response was there to help us outrun a hungry tiger or other large predator. Today, this superhuman instinct makes for an exciting thrill when triggered by extreme sports and adventure tourism activities. But did you know that an adrenaline rush may also be beneficial to your health?
What is an Adrenaline Rush, Exactly?
An adrenaline rush is what happens when our brain tips off our nervous system to a potential threat and our adrenal glands promptly flood our bloodstream with cortisol and adrenaline, creating a state of heightened mental and physical awareness. The rush can be triggered by a real-life stressful situation, like being chased down the street by some bad guys or the aforementioned hungry tiger. It can also be triggered by thrill provoking recreational activities like skydiving, ziplining, or riding a rollercoaster. The ‘just for fun’ adrenaline rush produces a ‘high’ afterward that makes you feel energized and giddy.
The term “adrenaline junkie” is often used to refer to people who can’t get enough of that adrenaline rush high and are perpetually seeking their next thrill. A prime example is wing-suit base jumpers who hurl themselves from mountain tops and soar through the air like human flying squirrels. With GoPros attached to their helmets, the incredible footage of this new high-risk sport is taking YouTube by storm. The riskier the activity, the bigger the rush it seems. While donning a squirrel-suit and jumping off a cliff is on the extreme end of the spectrum, there are plenty of other exciting activities that are more family-friendly.
Health Benefits of Adrenaline Rushes
If you’re not a die-hard adrenaline junkie (yet), you might be wondering, why seek out an adrenaline rush for fun? It turns out, stress isn’t a bad thing in small doses. An article in Mental Floss magazine highlights several surprising (although fleeting) health benefits of an adrenaline rush. Here’s a quick summary:
- Enhanced Vision – your physical senses, including your vision are heightened during an adrenaline rush. Your visual world will appear sharper, clearer, and more beautiful.
- More Brain Power – your brain is more engaged, focused, and alert than normal. You can think and react more quickly.
- Easy Breathing – during an adrenaline rush, the body’s smooth muscles relax, including the bronchioles in the lungs. This causes your airways to open and expand for maximum oxygen uptake.
- No Pain – an adrenaline rush distracts your mind from focusing on pain, providing temporary relief or diversion from injuries or chronic pain.
- Immune Boost – an adrenaline rush places your body’s defense system on high alert.
- More Strength – during an adrenaline rush, blood flow to your muscles is increased, boosting your strength to near-superhuman levels. (Ok, maybe not superhuman, but you get it.)
- Other Experiences Are Heightened – after an adrenaline rush, everything else you experience is tinted with the euphoria of the rush. In addition to your vision, all your other senses—taste, touch, smell, and hearing—are enhanced.
- May Slow Aging – an adrenaline rush increases the antioxidants in your system which combat free radicals and tissue damage associated with aging in the body.
To this list, we would add several mental health benefits. First, the feelings of elation and lightheartedness that follow an adrenaline rush make you feel like a kid again. The endorphins released can provide a shift out of depressive moods that can become more common with age and a sedentary lifestyle. Also, you build confidence and self-esteem when you get out of your comfort zone and try something new that scares you.
How to Get an Adrenaline Rush
Some of the most popular adrenaline rush producing activities include riding steep roller coasters, water slides at theme parks, ziplining, bungee jumping, skydiving, cage diving with sharks or alligators, water jet packs, biking, driving race cars on a safe track, or hiking on some of the world’s most extreme roads and trails, like Death’s Road in La Paz, Bolivia.
For those that are inexperienced, but want to try something new, ziplining is an excellent activity that is accessible to all ages. Like riding a rollercoaster, ziplining is a passive activity that doesn’t require strenuous exercise or serious risk. However, unlike theme parks, ziplining is an ecotourism activity that allows participants to immerse themselves in beautiful and breathtaking natural landscapes which often add to the thrill of the experience. Today, zipline tours are offered around the globe through many stunning landscapes, including in Hawaii.
Adrenaline Pumping Activities at The Umauma Experience
Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, The Umauma Experience offers unique, adrenaline pumping zipline tours. Part of what makes our zipline tours so original and thrilling is the island’s natural landscape which is home to many waterfalls, lush tropical forests, and deep valleys. The Triple-tier Umauma Falls runs through the middle of our 200+ acre property on the Hamakua Coast in Hakalau. Our 9-line zipline course takes you directly over 14 waterfalls and the Umauma River gorge for an incredible bird’s eye view. On our longest line, you can reach speeds of up to 65 miles per hour as you zip over the falls.
Families love our zipline course because children as young as 4 years old can participate. We’ve even had grandparents, 80 years and older zip our course over the falls. As mentioned earlier, an adrenaline rush can benefit your health, and even help keep you young. Now this is something we can get behind! We love seeing our guests at the end of the tour, faces flushed with excitement and full of energy after trying something new. For us, this is what living is all about … experiences that you’ll never forget.
Looking for an adrenaline rush on the Big Island of Hawaii? Check out our many adventurous, adrenaline pumping activities including our zipline tour here.