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Guest Post: Addicted to Adrenaline?

Addicted to adrenaline?

It’s common to hear extreme sports fans and commentators talking about adrenaline, and adrenaline junkies, but what does this actually mean? What is adrenaline, and what is it doing to your body? Why do you crave more of it? Is it bad for you?
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Adrenaline, or epinephrine as it is known to most Americans, is the hormone that controls the “fight or flight” response within your body. Released from the adrenal glands in your brain, this stuff floats around your body in your bloodstream and then binds to adrenergic receptors within all sorts of different tissues, effectively telling them that they need to get their act together because it’s do or die time.
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Your heart beats faster, your blood vessels and airways expand, and your liver and fatty tissues start to spit out glucose and fat stores into your system to fuel intense activity. Conversely, your body starts to shut down less vital systems, reducing the blood supply to your digestive system and in some cases trying to get rid of its contents, which is what is responsible for the queasiness associated with stress.
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All of this puts a lot of stress on your system. Adrenaline release is associated with all sorts of problems, heart palpitations, pulmonary oedema, headaches, anxiety, tremors, even bleeding within your brain. Extreme sports come with an intimidating list of side effects. Although it’s likely that over time as your body becomes fitter, you will become better able to deal with high levels of activity and the risks will reduce.
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As with many other stressful activities, if you are uncertain whether you are healthy enough to undertake a specific activity it is wise to consult your physician.
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Possibly a better question is whether it’s the actual adrenaline release itself, or its directly associated effects, that are causing the euphoric feeling. Certainly, people speak of the rush of adrenaline abd they seek out and seemingly become addicted to extreme sports, but it may not actually be the adrenaline that they crave, they may be becoming addicted to another thing that your body releases in times of stress – endorphins.
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Release of endorphins is very closely associated with a number of experiences, such as eating spicy food, excitement, exercise, and even falling in love. These substances actually act on the same receptors as some illegal drugs and are thought to be used by your body to regulate behaviour. It is very possible that it is in fact these substances which cause many people’s fixation with risky or stressful activity.
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This post was contributed by Francis Lawson, a freelance writer and a specialist in sport hints and tips. Francis currently writes for: http://www.insure4sport.co.uk/sport.aspx
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Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons / Richard Schneider

Tags: action sports, addiction, adrenaline addiction, adrenaline junkies, buzz, Extreme Sports

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