Published: July 10, 2019
What's in a hormone? The universe, as a matter of fact! We'd like to give a special shout-out to one of our favorites for skydiving - a magical little beast called... you guessed it... adrenaline. Here's all you ever wanted to know about the benefits of adrenaline and how your desire to embark on that tandem skydive relates to that.
What is Adrenaline, Anyway?
Once thought to only be a neurotransmitter, adrenaline is now known to neuroscience to be both a neurotransmitter and a hormone. (Simply put: Hormones are molecules the body releases into the bloodstream to use for signaling. Neurotransmitters are molecules the body uses for direct signaling between neurons -- usually, through physical contact at a synapse.)
Technically speaking, "regular old" adrenaline is not both things at once. Its "sister molecule," noradrenaline (also called norephinephrine), is the actual neurotransmitter -- but the two molecules are almost exactly identical.
Adrenaline is released by the adrenal gland into the bloodstream as the hormone. Noradrenaline is released and used by neurons in the brain as the neurotransmitter. Confusing? Yes -- because both sister molecules are actually detected by the same receptors - a bit like the same lock on a bunch of different doors.
What are the Benefits of Adrenaline?
We humans straight-up need adrenaline. It's there for us in every stressful situation (yupp - that includes skydiving!), driving our decision-making with the "fight-or-flight response. Along those lines, adrenaline is a crucial part of our body's security system.
So when you are about ready to jump out of a plane, that adrenaline surges into your bloodstream, and you get high on your own supply. It produces a heightened state of physical and mental alertness, greater physical strength, and speedier responses to challenges.
Cardiovascular Benefits of Adrenaline
An adrenaline surge causes your air passages to dilate, infusing your blood with higher levels of oxygen. It also triggers your blood vessels to contract, redirecting blood toward the major muscle groups that you'll need to either fight or fly, depending on what you decide in the moment.
Pain Resistance Benefits of Adrenaline
Adrenaline gets between your brain and an injury in the critical early moments, preventing your ability to sense the true extent of your physical pain. Cool (and useful) trick, huh? Thanks, Nature!
Strength Benefits of Adrenaline
Need to lift a sedan to rescue your trapped baby? Adrenaline to the rescue! Even about half an hour after the initial stress has abated, you'll still have extra lifting power. Your eyes will be stronger, too: your pupils dilate when they get a boost of adrenaline, so your vision improves (because you've allowed in more light to see by).
Cognitive Benefits of Adrenaline
When your bloodstream is pumping with adrenaline, your brain is gonna get extra-oxygenated. You'll feel fully engaged, laser-focused, and prepared to slay any beast wandering your way. You'll be making decisions for the absolutely immediate future, sure - but you'll be making those decisions SO FAST.
What is a Type T (or Thrill Seeker) Personality?
In a world of uncertainties, some people avoid risk. Others, however, thrive on it, and often those people are on great terms with their adrenaline response systems.
You may have heard of the phrase "Type T Personality," coined in the 1980s by a University of Wisconsin psychologist named Frank Farley. The "T" stands for "thrill," and Farley argued that as many as 30 percent of Americans are thrill seekers who pursue risk (and its handmaiden, adrenaline) for its own sake.
Keep this in mind, too: A thrill seeker personality is not necessarily a crazy risk-taker. While most skydivers are on the "Type T" spectrum, most of us pride ourselves on our mindful, thoughtful, measured assumption of risk.
So: Would you consider yourself to be a Type T personality -- or the kind of person who just might be, if given the chance?
We'd love for you to experience the benefits of adrenaline for your very own self. The positive effects of adrenaline are right there on the other side of a tandem skydiving reservation, so come and get 'em!