Blog RSS


Could adventure sports improve anxiety?

May 27th, 2014

"When you realise you can be brave in one area of your life, you realise you can be brave in other areas too."

It’s fair to say that we British folk are a little traditional. Historically, we have always looked to NHS providers as the only antidote to anxiety but what can we be doing to help ourselves and what self-help strategies are effective?

Many individuals use a variety of methods to cope with anxiety, whether that be meditation, therapy or medication, it really does depend on the individual. One remarkable fact is that people rarely think to use exercise as a prescription (a free one at that).

It’s not a new concept, exercise has been used to reduce anxiety for many years. There are huge health benefits attached to physical activity including reducing risks of heart conditions, cancers, dementia and depression and the NHS have even commented that a sedentary lifestyle is a ‘silent killer’.

For some, trying a new exercise can be daunting and professionals often recommend trying lots of different activities once and seeing what you like but is it that easy?
I am often quoted saying that well-being is like a ladder, each rung taking us closer to our goal of good well-being. Most services assume that people can reach the first rung, or take the first step but there is an entire population of individuals that don’t have the capacity to. For those with anxiety, it’s frustrating when someone says ‘go and try a new exercise, it will help you’… it’s just not that easy!

The clinical and sporting community need to work closer together. Sports clubs will no doubt find it difficult to attract individuals with mental health issues but it’s not the clubs themselves, it’s the media representation of elitism, it does nothing to reduce anxiety through its perception.

In Britain, we have a long history of encouraging participation in team or competition sports. These sports can be fantastic for improving social engagement and group cohesion however, they can also provide a negative experience for people suffering with anxiety and an opportunity to hide in the background.

In traditional sporting pastimes, we are also given the space we need in our minds to allow everyday distractions to squeeze in – just think, how many times have you been swimming and thought ”I wonder what I’m going to have for dinner later”? …It’s easy because there is room for those thoughts.

A hot topic at the moment is how adventure sports can provide an alternative approach. Many countries around the world already utilize adventure sports as a method of reducing anxiety, particularly America and Australia. Britain are a little behind but we are certainly catching up.

So what are adventure sports and what’s so special about them?

iDID Adventure is a social enterprise using adventure sports as a platform to improve well-being, confidence and self-esteem in young adults affected by deafness, disability and mental health conditions. iDID define adventure sports as activities such as rock climbing, watersports, snowsports and paddlesports - each one providing a unique opportunity to engage with ourselves, others and the environment.

Rock climbing in particular has received a big pat on the back for all the benefits it can provide. Dr Sally Mclaren is both a rock climber and a clinical psychologist specialising in anxiety. She often prescribes climbing to her patients and finds that a portion of those patients overcome their anxiety by themselves. Dr Mclaren comments:

“it’s [rock climbing] helpful with all anxiety problems because it enables people to enter into a deep level of concentration that helps push anxious thoughts away. People gradually habituate themselves to be more brave, and when you realise you can be brave in one area of your life, you realise you can be brave in other areas too,”

As fantastic as climbing is, it can’t receive all the glory! Wakeboarding too is fast becoming an effective way to engage people in exercise which improves their well-being. iDID recently conducted a survey amongst wakeboarders and found some interesting results.

•    70% agreed that wakeboarding provided them with social interaction
•    82% said that they were more motivated to trying more sports
•    100% of participants felt that participating in wakeboarding regularly improved their psychological well-being

iDID believe that young people should have more opportunity to take risks in a safe environment and allow them to learn risk management skills that can be transferred in other areas of their lives. Adventure sports can provide the ideal opportunity to do that.

It’s important to note that individuals with major anxiety disorders should consult their specialist to discuss the management of taking up new activities but even more importantly, professionals should be encouraging and sign posting young people to opportunities offering supportive participation.

Susanne Rees is CEO & Founder of iDID Adventure CIC and a paraclimber. She is profoundly deaf and has been coping with Neurofibromatosis Type 2 for the last 10 years. No stranger to disability, depression or anxiety, Susanne founded iDID as a response to a lack of engaging opportunities in physical and mental health rehabilitation. iDID will be launching their ‘Well-being Project’ pilot in 2014, for any enquiries please see the contact details below.

iDID Adventure CIC

Categories:   iDID Adventure  

Posted By:  Susanne Rees

Comments:  0

Northampton Paraclimbers Go National

May 15th, 2014


A group of deaf and disabled youngsters from local adventure club, iDID Northampton, are heading to Manchester to compete against some of the world’s best.

5 paraclimbers with a variety of disabilities, including Autism and Hearing Loss, will be competing in Manchester on Saturday 24th May. This is the final round of the British Mountaineering Council’s Paraclimbing Series, which sees World Paraclimbing Champion Fran Brown, holding her reign.

iDID Northampton climbers, Alex Bodsworth, James Downes, Rachel Durman & Ella Gadsby have been working hard to train for the competition and some only started climbing 6 months ago. Club President, Jon Byrne says:

“It’s a real testament to the hard work of the climbers, coaches and volunteers to develop the level of skill needed to take part in a national competition and we are extremely proud of the whole team. Some of our members face real hardships in everyday life so this opportunity will have a huge impact on them.”

iDID Northampton launched in February 2013 as a response to a lack of alternative sporting opportunities for deaf and disabled young adults. The club believe that young people should be given the opportunity to improve their well-being, confidence and self-esteem through adventure sports and have a huge focus on personal development. Whilst climbing is at the core of what they do, iDID believe that young adults should get more from sports, especially those from marginalised groups. Club Coordinator, Susanne Rees says:

“We passionately believe in pushing our members to challenge themselves and learn how to take risks in a safe environment. Climbing offers a unique opportunity to do that. Our members are all affected by different life experiences and abilities and we ensure that each and every person has the chance to take part. This means we do a lot of work to adapt climbing to the needs of the young person and not the other way round!” 

The event would be impossible to run if it weren’t for the support of local sponsors. Summit Clothing and Friars Academy in Wellingborough were very keen to support the team in their journey to national success. Head of PE at Friars Academy and ProjectAbility Lead, Rhian Turnbull commented:

“Friars Academy are delighted to be sponsoring the Northamptonshire Paraclimbing Team so they can attend the BMC Paraclimbing Series 2014. As the lead school for Project Ability, a Youth Sport Trust initiative, we are passionate about ensuring pupils with special educational needs and disabilities have access to meaningful competitive experiences in a variety of sports. Participating in the BMC Paraclimbing Series 2014 will be an incredible experience for all the young people involved and we are pleased to be working in partnership with iDiD Adventure to hopefully provide more opportunities in the future

The iDID Northampton club meet on a weekly with a focus on rock climbing. For more information, check out their website: or email: Alternatively, if you have additional needs, you can text 07902 147 863.

Categories:   Guest Blogs  

Posted By:  Susanne Rees

Comments:  0