Is Parkour Dangerous or Good for Your Health?

Shanghai skyline viewed from the edge of a rooftop.

Whenever you watch “daredevil” and “stunts” or in other words parkour and freerunning videos on YouTube you might be tempted to read the comments below. Big mistake! It’s not just trolls though.

Among the many who express their awe and appreciation you will almost always find common people appalled by the things they just saw.

When freerunners jump over a roof gap or climb a crane someone will comment that it’s “stupid and dangerous” for example.

Yet nobody would tell people how stupid and dangerous climbing mountains is these days. Yet just a century ago it was only done by a select few daredevils.

Even Google itself – who owns YouTube – considers parkour and urban climbing dangerous and demotes such videos algorithmically.

The video where I actually found the comment I cite above is a bit long thus I let it start where the actual “insane” part happens.

I couldn’t find the “stupid and dangerous” comment and ensuing debate anymore when writing this. It was probably deleted because it was too obnoxious in the end. It’s a shame. It does no matter – the point is more important than ever.

Every Day Stupidity

When you see mortality statistics and read about the overall health of the population you will realize that every day activities like

  • sitting
  • using a mobile phone
  • driving a car

are very deadly. This is no joke. What is the real stupidity?

Does someone say you are stupid because you put a phone to your ear that emits microwave radiation and is effectively frying your brain? Nope.

The Fear of the Unknown vs the Looks of Danger

A youth wearing a black hoody and faces mask is smoking so that you only see smoke and clothing but no face.

Why do people generally rather fear the unknown and what looks dangerous than what really is dangerous but commonplace?

Why do people label uncommon practices that look dangerous as such or even “stupid” while they ignore actually stupid and dangerous practices?

Just think smoking. It has been ignored for decades. There are three main reasons for overlooking actual dangers we face every day:

  • we are used to them
  • people make money off them
  • they are generally accepted

You see people driving cars daily, using up space in the city by placing their cars in the way of pedestrians and making life dangerous for little people aka kids.

Kids can’t even play outside anymore because it’s too risky due to all the cars.

You do not even notice it anymore. It’s perfectly normal insanity.

Then of course people are making money sitting all day and staring into screens. They call it work. Most people whether in offices, factories or vehicles sit all day.

Other people make lots of money by selling

  • cars
  • gas
  • asphalt

for the streets or concrete for parking spaces.

Obviously the latest iPhone makes a lot of money as well. Nobody even asks for the ever increasing SAR value – the metric of microwave radiation. Your smartphone is giving you brain cancer. At least use a headset!

Your Car, Mobile and Couch Are Killing You! Stop Using Them!

Young man is lying on the couch and working on his laptop. It's pretty dark in his room, he is barefoot and looks stressed/tense.

Of course nobody will stop using their mobile, driving cars or sitting all day. After all it’s “normal”, isn’t it? Everybody is doing it! They can’t be all wrong, can they?

Everything that is not normal must be abnormal then or crazy. You could call it stupid and dangerous.

Luckily there are enough people out there who think for themselves and don’t abide by norms that were made up by corporations to make money.

These days it’s also normal to give away all your private data to Google and Facebook so that they can profile you and sell that data to advertisers or let governments use it.

You never know who can read your “private” messages, who knows where you are and whom you’re meeting. In contrast

the risk of death or injury when practicing parkour or climbing skyscrapers in cities is easily fathomable. Captain Obvious strikes again!

Everybody can see that you could fall and kill yourself. It looks dangerous but rarely does someone who is not suicidal kill her or himself doing it.

People are quick to judge these days. You get a label within milliseconds. For example I use a very expensive jacket for training during autumn. It sports a camouflage pattern that is similar to military uniforms.

The poor and despondent often wear old uniform jackets here. When I picked up my wife once after training and was still wearing joggers and that jacket which is worth like 300+ Euros (I got it for free on a side note) a man stopped me.

He asked: “what are you doing here?”. The man assumed I was a burglar. In his eyes I was wearing a poor man’s jacket and thus I was suspicious. Even though I was happy after training and to see my wife this stereotyping made me angry

Parkour vs Truly Dangerous Sports

OK, you could argue that all these comparisons are far-fetched. Let’s compare parkour to some popular sports which are indeed dangerous instead. Think

  • skiing
  • boxing
  • cycling

Take note: I didn’t mention things like skydiving, wild water rafting or free climbing. I strictly refer to popular sports.

All of these are highly dangerous both in the short and long run. I wouldn’t call them stupid but there surely are people who consider them too risky to practice.

Personally I know a surgeon who has to “fix” the people who are into skiing so that she pledged never to try it. Did you know? Roughly

300 people die each year while skiing because of avalanches

This is the global number but it does not even contain actual skiing accidents. These are only the people who were buried by snow and killed while skiing. More than 100 skiers died in the Alps alone during the winter season 2014/2015.

There are more people who die in avalanches but who aren’t skiing. I’m not sure whether snowboarders were included but as far as I remember the article dealt only with traditional skiing.

Guess what – nobody calls skiing stupid and dangerous – it’s so normal. There is only talk about precautions or better equipment allowing them to survive longer under snow and such.

Boxing and cycling, especially modern cycling types like BMX can lead to brain damage over the years.

Your head is exposed to frequent hits so that micro-fractures can make you depressive among others. Many famous boxers suffered brain damage as a the side-effect of ongoing trauma.

Even in case you just cycle along the streets in an average city you can get run over by a car any time and die.

Especially in countries like the US where cycling is still uncommon it’s quite hazardous.

In an ideal world or a country like the Netherlands or Denmark cycling is very healthy. In the current reality it’s often the opposite.

Even in case you don’t get run over you are exposed to air pollution directly where most of it is caused: on the streets where cars pollute it with their exhausts.

Breathing is Dangerous

As you see even the simple fact of breathing is dangerous in urban areas. Millions of people die a premature death due to pollution! You can’t stop it though. Likewise

limiting your movement to prevent injury or death will lead to faster death and more likely injury.

Sedentary people are much more likely to break their bones and die later on due to side-effects of the accident than people who train regularly.

True, you can die when practicing parkour or climbing skyscrapers too but most people who do that can assess the risk and their own potential well enough to prevent it. They are not suicidal.

Childhood Obesity is the Real Problem

Another huge issue is childhood obesity. In countries like the US or UK the rate of obese kids has doubled within two decades!

It’s not just that these kids look fat and can barely move off the couch. Children are already at risk of diabetes and heart disease.

I’m a huge proponent of a positive body image no matter what body type you have. Genes decide a lot and nobody should get bullied for being obese.

Most of us have a choice though. We can eat fast food and sugar all the day and lie at the couch for hours or we can move and eat healthy.

I know that you can decide. I tried both. It was a long process and took years to finally become healthy again. I was not obese as a kid though.

When you grow up fat you run the risk of never even knowing what it is like to be lean and agile. You will think that being always tired and feeling sick is normal.

Yet, it’s no wonder. The government officials responsible for the childhood obesity epidemic are sponsored by the sugar industry!

This is truly stupid and dangerous. Now please say something about that. The bunch of kids jumping on roofs like circus acrobats are not the problem. They are the solution!

Take Care of Your Health

When parkour practitioners show off their “insane stunts” they make movement attractive again to the younger generations and even sometimes to old farts like myself.

The UK already recognized parkour as an official sport.

Other countries will soon follow. One day skyscrapers will have official jumping playgrounds. Expensive hotels will have parkour instructors.

Decide for yourself what you consider healthy: regular movement that allows you to perform things others assume to be “stupid and dangerous” or letting your body degenerate due to the things modern civilization sells to us as perfectly safe and even convenient.

Most people die in bed. Be careful when you go to sleep or lie down. It might be dangerous. Parkour training is good for your health when done right. You don’t have to risk much when you don’t want to.