Five ways to bring adventure to your life
Conquering Everest may be a step too far for most of us, but that doesn't mean life can't be a bit more daring and exciting
Tackling Everest, the world's highest mountain, has long held a magical, irresistible appeal for hardcore adventurists and climbers. But this gruelling - to put it extremely mildly - challenge is not without risk.
Last year, 16 people died following avalanches at base camp, and back in 1996, 12 climbers died after encountering violent storms on the summit. Their dramatic story has now been turned into a movie - Everest - starring Keira Knightley and Jake Gyllenhaal (in cinemas tomorrow).
Whether the film makes you even more grateful for the comfort and safety of your sofa, or leaves you hankering for a bit of excitement, we can all get into a rut sometimes. Fancy breaking up the mundane with a little bit of adventure? Here are five ways to make daily life a little more daring.
1. Plan mini expeditions
Preparing for and tackling Everest can take years. If a few hours on a Sunday is all you can spare, don't let that stop you enjoying some outdoor adventure.
Why not look into nature hotspots or walks in your local area that you've never explored before? "There's nothing I enjoy more than walking with my wife and young kids through the magnificent woods near where we live in the Chilterns," says Simon Barnett, director of walking development at the Ramblers (www. ramblers.org.uk).
"There are mighty oaks and beech trees, and we play a game to try and spot the herd of deer that freely roam. It's a particularly special place this time of year, as the leaves start to put on a magical display.
"Everywhere has something special to offer when you're on foot - whether that's a secluded tiny urban park offering a respite from the stresses of daily life, or a magnificent vista from the top of a Scottish Munro that is the just reward for the effort of climbing it in the first place.
"Simply by putting on a pair of shoes and going for a walk almost everyone can experience this sense of adventure and excitement."
2. Cook your way around the world
Jetting off to South America or Southeast Asia might not be an option, but you can still explore far-flung lands - through your taste buds.
Okay, eating a country's cuisine is not quite the same as actually visiting the place, but being a little adventurous in your cooking could really spice up the week (literally, if the dish calls for it) and help break up that rut.
3. Picnic like a rebel
And while we're on the food theme ... picnics are one of the joys of summer - so now summer's over, it's back to drab TV dinners and staying indoors moaning about the weather, right? It doesn't have to be that way.
Yep, a "cold weather picnic" might sound like a really daft at first, but it could also be a little bit thrilling and - what with all the walking expeditions you're going to be doing - you'll need to refuel with something warm and filling, like a flask of soup or vat of stew. (Or yes, you could just find a pub.)
4. Go extreme with your fitness classes
These days, when it comes to exercise classes, you'll find so much more than plain old aerobics on offer. From British Military Fitness to CrossFit, fitness classes now provide the chance to escape reality and train like the pros.
"While our more traditional classes are still very popular, we have definitely noticed a shift towards people wanting to try more adventurous, unique and even seasonal workouts recently," says Andy Birch, head of fitness at Virgin Active (www.virgin active.co.uk).
"Our new, more adventurous classes, such as Mudder Maker and The Grid, have had an overwhelmingly positive reaction," he adds.
"To meet this demand, we've actively been looking for innovations that allow members to keep discovering new ways to keep fit, such as the brand new Apex Altitude Studio in our Walbrook club, where you can train at 3,000m (with simulated altitude)."
5. Sign up for a challenge
Whether it's a 5k fun run, half marathon or something more gruelling like a Tough Mudder, there are endless opportunities these days.
It's just a question of finding the challenge that appeals to - and is right for - you.
Committing to training could bring new focus and purpose to everyday life, not to mention the satisfaction and sense of achievement you'll gain.
"A big motivator for me is to experience the pure exhilaration of crossing the finish line and completing a long-term goal. Life is for living and I firmly believe in this," says Matt Tomkin, director of Vo2 Sportswear (www.vo2sports wear.com), who has completed four Ironman challenges and will be part of the support team in the Arch to Arc challenge with Help for Heroes which starts later this month.