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Fitness & Sports

What You Should Know About Extreme Sport

Extreme sport tends to push the limitations of the human body, in order to cope with extraordinary conditions. This requires a high level of physical exertion and the necessity of facing the possibility of death. It would seem at times, that extreme sport appears to defy scientific laws. Extreme sports have become the domain of clever advertising marketers and clothes and equipment designers and is as varied as their imagination.

Extreme sport has a cult-type following, forming into a sub-culture. It has been marketed mainly to the affluent and thrill-seeking younger, disenchanted, generation. Marketing gurus have quickly recognized this as a Blue Moon Opportunity, (once in a lifetime opportunity).

Extreme sport requires an extremely high level of discipline and fitness of the body, as well as an acute discipline of the mind, for they often involve performing a death-defying stunt of some description. Deep diving without oxygen is a perfect example of this, based on the ‘Mammalian Diving reflex’, a technique used by whales and dolphins. At the extreme bottom of the free dive, in the ‘baracardia shirt’ a world renown diver’s heart beat was recorded to drop to as low as 9 beats per minute. In 2007, a German, Herbet Nitsche, was recorded to dive using a weighted sled, to a depth of 214 meters (702 feet).

The advertising marketers and designers make certain there are costly ‘toys’ that go with free diving, such as low profile masks, skin tight hydrophobic free dive suits, free dive fins etc. Underwater rugby and hockey have been developed by free diving enthusiasts.

For the television audience X Games were created. This involves a collection of extreme action sports which has become an annual event, with both summer and winter games.

There are a wide variety of accepted sports which were once classed as extreme sport. These include skiing, hang gliding, mountain and rock climbing. New extreme sports continue to evolve including riding the air waves on a board, ice climbing, and wing suit flying. Now you can strap a human body inside a specially designed wing suit and the body becomes shaped into an airfoil. Special feet and hand ‘wing’s created in the suit, allows the participant to glide several thousand feet. A conventional parachute is used to ensure the flyer lands safely.

Extreme sport continues to evolve through three major factors: expensive equipment and designer clothing and opposing the norm. Combined with video-music and the ability of advertising giants to push new frontiers to an experience-hungry thrill-seeking generation, extreme sport continues to expand. Perhaps there will come a time when there is a low-gravity, oxygen free giant step extreme sport on the moon.

Dr Wendy Tendys-Stenberg