Tag Archives: dangerous sports

The high risk sports personality

Having looked at the personality traits that are common to runners in our last post, I thought it would be interesting to compare them with other types of athletes, in particular, those who are into high risk sports. In case you have forgotten, runners tend to be more introverted, and imaginative, among other things.

So what personality traits are common to those who participate in dangerous sports? According to Personality differences in high risk sports amateurs and instructors:

This study investigated the personality differences of 21 amateurs and 20 instructors who participated in the high risk sports of skydiving, hang-gliding, paragliding, scuba diving, microlighting, and rock climbing, versus those who did not. 38 men and 28 women (M age=32.6 yr., SD= 10.0) were assessed using the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire-Revised, the General Health Questionnaire, the Generalised Self-efficacy Scale, and a Type A/B personality measure. Instructors and Amateurs scored significantly higher on Extroversion and lower on Neuroticism than Nonparticipants; however, they differed from each other on the General Health Questionnaire and Type A/B personality scores. Amateurs scored significantly higher on Psychoticism and Self-efficacy than Instructors and Nonparticipants. In conclusion, these test scores suggest that people who are attracted to high risk sports tend to be at the extroverted and emotionally stable end of the scale, with a tendency to exhibit Type A characteristics; however, Instructors’ scores on Psychoticism and Self-efficacy are more akin to those of Nonparticipants.

The tendency toward extroversion among participants in high risk sports makes them the opposite of introverted runners. They also seem to be more Type A, and if I am reading this correctly, amateurs in this sport have a tendency toward “psychoticism”? I can understand “crazy”, but “psychotic”? I wish they had elaborated on this.

Also, it’s strange how instructors in these dangerous sports have personalities more like non-participants. Is this the ultimate example of “what you don’t do, you teach?”.

I still can’t find anything definitive about joggling and personality.

Does climbing to extremely high altitudes lead to brain damage?


Mount Everest. Photo by Rupert Taylor-Price from Flickr.

I admire mountain climbers, especially those who look up at the highest peaks in the world and say: “I am going there”. I admire crazy people who can push themselves to the limits of human potential, making history, and inspiring others to push themselves to their limits.

That said, doing extraordinary things very often comes with extraordinary risks. Besides the risk of falling, the higher up you go, the thinner the atmosphere and the less oxygen there is. Just about everyone who climbs to the top of Mount Everest and other very high peaks suffers from hypoxia or low oxygen conditions, unless they bring an oxygen tank with them. Lack of oxygen can lead to dizziness, drowsiness, lightheadedness, and headache among other things that can severely compromise even an experienced climbers abilities.

But does this lead to permanent brain damage? When it comes to climbers of Mount Everest, according to Clinica QuirĂ³n de Zaragoza, Spain in Evidence of brain damage after high-altitude climbing by means of magnetic resonance imaging:


Only 1 in 13 of the Everest climbers had a normal MRI; the amateur showed frontal subcortical lesions, and the remainder had cortical atrophy and enlargement of Virchow-Robin spaces but no lesions. Among the remaining amateurs, 13 showed symptoms of high-altitude illness, 5 had subcortical irreversible lesions, and 10 had innumerable widened Virchow-Robin spaces. Conversely, we did not see any lesion in the control group. We found no significant differences in the metabolite ratios between climbers and controls.


We conclude that there is enough evidence of brain damage after high altitude climbing; the amateur climbers seem to be at higher risk of suffering brain damage than professional climbers.

I’ve never seriously entertained the idea of climbing Everest(29,029 ft or 8,848 m, or), but if I ever do I will keep this in mind, and will definitely bring an oxygen tank if I decide to do it(no I won’t joggle to the top). It looks like the brain damage may be permanent.

Everest’s 29,029 ft may seem like an incredible, very intimidating height to most of us, but this is because of our every day experiences of heights and distances. From another perspective, 29,029 ft is only about 0.14% of the distance from seal level to the center of the Earth.

Maybe I could joggle to the top after all?

How dangerous is BASE jumping?

If you’re an adrenaline “junkie”, you’re always looking for new adventures to get that rush. Maybe you started out as a runner, and did a fair number of races, but then it just became boring after a while. Or maybe you like to go skiing during the winter, and then you adapted to it and that became boring too.

One of the ultimate “highs” is to jump from an airplane. I haven’t done it yet, but I hear its an amazing feeling.

Arguably even more extreme than sky diving is BASE jumping, which involves jumping off of tall buildings, antennas, spans, and earth. If the BASE jumper starts from a high enough altitude, they may even use a wing-suit to fly their way down toward earth before parachuting. Some sky-divers do this too.

As incredibly fun as these activities are, how dangerous are they?

According to Stavanger University Hospital, Norway, in How dangerous is BASE jumping?


During an 11-year period, a total of 20,850 jumps (median, 1,959; range, 400-3,000) resulted in 9 fatal (0.04% of all jumps; 1 in every 2,317 jumps) and 82 nonfatal accidents (0.4% of all jumps; 1 in every 254 jumps). Accidents increased with the number of jumps (r=0.66; p=0.007), but fatalities did not increase, nor did activation of helicopter or climbers in rescue (p>0.05). Helicopter activation (in one-third of accidents) in rescue correlated with number of accidents (r=0.76, p=0.007), but not climbers. Postmortem examination (n=7) of fatalities revealed multiple, severe injuries (Abbreviated Injury Scale score>or=3) sustained in several body regions (median, Injury Severity Score 75; range, 23-75). Most nonfatal accidents were related to ankle sprains/fracture, minor head concussion, or a bruised knee.


BASE jumping appears to hold a five- to eightfold increased risk of injury or death compared with that of skydiving. The number of accidents and helicopter activation increases with the annual number of jumps. Further analysis into the injury severity spectrum and associated hospital burden is required.

This seems extremely dangerous. Far more dangerous than anything I do. I wonder to what degree does the death-defying aspect make this “fun”. If somehow the danger was removed from BASE jumping would it make the sport less fun for some people?

If anyone reading this has tried BASE jumping or sky-diving, please tell us about your experiences.

Joggling as training for extreme sports

Base jumping. Source: Wikipedia

Base jumping. Source: Wikipedia

There aren’t very many jogglers out there. In the U.S, the number of jogglers appears to be in the hundreds. Most train just to be better jogglers or because they simply love joggling. There are also a few “swogglers”(juggling while swimming) out there, but they are even rarer.

A few jogglers, like Perry Romanowski, are ultra-jogglers, which is basically juggling while ultra-running. Perry has not only set many world joggling records, he also runs by far the best, most informative website about joggling at: Justyouraveragejoggler.com. Whether you are just a casual joggler or you want to train for marathons or ultra-marathons, his site has a lot of useful advice. I’ve learned a lot from him, and wish him well in his ultra-ultra marathon joggling and scientific exploits.

While joggling for joggling’s sake is why most of us do it(and I am not sure if ultra-marathon joggling counts as an “extreme sport”), can joggling also be used as training for extreme sports? Obviously, the best way to train for various extreme sports is to train at these sports, but a little cross-training can be valuable, especially with how joggling improves your hand/eye coordination. After all, why run, when you can joggle?

While there is no universally agreed upon definition of an “extreme sport”, certain sports like BASE jumping obviously qualify. A looser definition could easily include downhill skiing(especially extreme skiing), and rock-climbing. Hang gliding would also probably qualify. The main thing these all have in common are that they are inherently dangerous, especially BASE jumping.

Another thing they have in common is that they all require a very high level of coordination, coordination that can make the difference between life and death. Just think of the coordination a rock climber needs, and the split second decision making they need to make if something goes wrong, and how having excellent coordination can prevent them from falling to their death.

So can joggling help better prepare people who want to BASE jump, or rock climb, or be an extreme skiier? I honestly do not know, but I see little reason to believe it would hurt. I have no experience in any extreme sports except for a little climbing, so my opinion concerning this isn’t particularly well-informed.

One reason joggling may be a good cross-training activity for extreme sportsmen and sportswomen, is that it is much easier to find the time and place to joggle on a regular basis. But who can BASE jump every day? Or ski down an extreme mountain slope, or hang glide every day? Unless you are very lucky to live at a place that affords you the opportunity to do this, and you also have a lifestyle that allows you to do this every day, it can be difficult to practice these activities with regularity.

So if you are into extreme sports or want to get into them, why not give joggling a try first? Maybe you will be a lot better at your chosen extreme sport if you joggle every day, or maybe not. It’s difficult to know how much of your joggling ability can transfer to other activities requiring extreme coordination, but I am reasonably certain it is greater than nothing.