Picture: Wikimedia Commons

When was the last time you did an obstacle course? If you’re an adult, the chances are a few decades ago. But maybe that should change, because there are multiple physical and mental benefits to completing obstacle courses as a grown up.

Here are some:

Play eases stress

We’ve all been told the benefits of playtime for children when it comes to emotional and cognitive development, but few people realise that “play” is just as important for adults. As we grow up and get jobs, become parents and take on a large volume of responsibilities like mortgages and deadlines, we have very little time for hobbies or pastimes that bring us joy. 

In fact, they say that globally, play is declining for both kids and adults and this has negative and wide reaching consequences. An obstacle course can inject a good dose of joy into your life, helping to relieve stress. 

Tiffini Wissing, founder and owner of Cool Kids Cabs, says completing obstacle courses leaves her with a mixture of “child-like joy and insane achievement”.

Get outdoors

It’s all very well running like a hamster on the treadmill at gym, however, there are so many benefits to interacting with nature and exercising outdoors. 

“I love outdoor challenges,” says Melissa Cumming who just completed her first obstacle course: “Climbing, crawling, balancing, getting dirty – it’s like being back at school camp! We don’t do enough of that sort of stuff as adults.” 

Many obstacle courses, like the Fedhealth IMPI challenge, are set in scenic surroundings, so you get to soak up the beauty as you have fun and get fit.

You won’t be bored

From mud pits to high walls, rope climbs to confined spaces, obstacle courses are full of surprises! If the monotony of a marathon is not for you, you may like the variety of an obstacle course, where a new mental or physical challenge awaits you around every corner.  

Tiffini agrees: “For someone like me, who battles to concentrate on exercise (I find it mind-numbingly boring!), the benefit of partaking in an activity like this, is that it helps ease the boredom of exercise as your attention is focused elsewhere (i.e getting over that wall somehow!).”

Foster teamwork

There’s no better way to forge team spirit than having to work together to safely get everyone over an obstacle. Tiffini loves taking her whole office of 30 women to complete one together, from management through to cleaners and drivers, and says that many of them found it incredibly empowering, as they completed tasks they never thought they would be able to. There is also a wonderful sense of camaraderie amongst competitors. 

“From the mommy trying to get her fitness back, to the social athlete and the “black ops” warrior, it’s a level playing field with a core objective: to get to the finish line,” says Tiffini.

Improve your fitness

The more obstacle courses you complete, the more you’ll be motivated to get fitter, eat better and generally improve your health. With some races spread over around 20km of “hills, mud, water, ropes and walls”, you’ll have no choice but to get stronger, fitter, leaner and emotionally stronger, as you persevere, push your boundaries and conquer your fears.