Whenever people discuss the experience of skydiving, they all seem to focus on either the sensation of the experience or the scenery that they were able to see from such an elevated vantage point. This is inescapably true when one is skydiving in an impressive, visually stunning and iconic location as one encounters when skydiving in LA. From the towering palms to the San Gabriel mountains to the Hollywood hills, there is no shortage of organically induced eye candy to indulge in when skydiving in LA.
That said, similar compliments could be made about the scenery anywhere one may partake in a skydive, so what about the other properties that serve to benefit or depreciate the value of the experience? Like for example, is it even good for you?
Each year, approximately half a million people skydive, free falling 13,000 feet to the ground. The United States Parachute Association (USPA) reports that nearly 3.2 million jumps are executed every year, 500,000 of them by first timers. And as skydiving gains in popularity, it also gains in safety.
In 2016, the USPA recorded 21 fatal skydiving accidents in the U.S. out of roughly 3.2 million jumps.
The sport of skydiving continues to improve its safety record. In 2016, USPA recorded 21 fatal skydiving accidents in the U.S. out of roughly 3.2 million jumps. That’s one fatality per 153,557 jumps—one of the lowest rates in the sport’s history! Tandem skydiving has an even better safety record, with one student fatality per 500,000 tandem jumps over the past decade. According to the National Safety Council, a person is much more likely to be killed getting struck by lightning or stung by a bee,” says the USPA.
Despite its improvement as a sport, the actual act of plunging to earth at 120 miles per hour while skydiving has physical and mental consequences. In 2007, the Behaviour Research and Therapy Journal has reported that “Responses indicated that the skydive elicited extreme anxiety, hyperarousal, and peritraumatic dissociation (alteration in awareness and memory for events that occur during and shortly after a traumatic experience) in a significant proportion of skydivers. Multiple regression analyses indicated that hyperarousal, and to a lesser extent anxiety, were strongly predictive of peritraumatic dissociative reactions.”
Jumping from 13,000 feet will also result in changes in atmospheric pressure, which will impact your ears and sinuses. According to the National Institute of Health, “Sports with more extreme changes in atmospheric pressure such as skydiving and scuba diving commonly place the athlete at risk for barotrauma injuries, especially in the middle ear and sinuses. Middle ear barotrauma occurs when a pressure differential develops between the middle ear and the pressure outside of the tympanic membrane. Early symptoms include ear pain, dizziness, and muffled hearing. When extreme pressure gradients are not relieved, middle ear effusions and rupture of the tympanic membrane can occur. A similar mechanism and injury pattern occurs in the sinuses as well.”
“Psychologists say inclination to try high risk activities is essential for the continuation of the human species.”
However, according to Samir Becic, a world-renowned health and fitness expert, the benefits of skydiving outweigh the risks. “Psychologists say inclination to try high risk activities is essential for the continuation of the human species. When you skydive, you focus on what you are doing and on nothing else. You forget all your worries and the usual distractions of life. This intense focus with the adrenaline rush makes you feel cleansed both mentally and physically,” said Becic.
“It also builds upper arm strength in controlling the parachute as well as the big muscle groups in the lower body for landing. Lugging skydiving gear around also burns energy and tones muscles,” Becic added. “Adrenaline is a survival mechanism, necessary for overall health. You feel excited and energetic as your body responds to the adrenaline rush. Moreover, skydivers say that this activity requires intense control over the mind. You acquire an increased awareness of the things around you when you jump off the plane.”
Perhaps there will always be those who disagree with the point of view that entertains the sport of skydiving being healthy or beneficial, but for those who are proponents of the activity, it only serves to support their need to defy their compunction more. And, as we mentioned previously, the rush in conjunction with the visual accouterments certainly serve to solidify it as a worthy endeavor. So, take off on your aerial adventures and should you need to inspire others, start by naming the elements that surround the city and make skydiving in LA something truly amazing and if that doesn't work, tell them they will be healthier for participating in it.