After-hours excursions for adrenaline junkies in Georgia

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VIDEO: 6 State Parks for Adrenaline Junkies

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Which comes first, being hooked on adrenaline or working as a critical care, flight or emergency nurse? When it comes to time-off recreation, the order doesn’t really matter. Nurses who have learned to thrive on a “who knows what will come next” workday may also really enjoy daring (but safe and legal) after-hours and weekend pursuits.

Registered nurse Melissa Waggoner, a director of surgical services in Florida, had more than a decade of experience working positions such as open heart team nurse and nurse manager of the ICU to come to the conclusion that she and other nurses can bond over activities designed for adrenaline junkies.

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She now works in a community adjacent to Universal Orlando Resort, so thrill rides are convenient and accessible for her. She also suggests parasailing and ziplining for those seeking a rush not inspired by imminent danger to a patient.

Science bears out the benefits of an adrenaline rush, even for nurses who typically work in information technology or have a fairly tame workday. While too much adrenaline release can be harmful, the hormone is “an important part of your body’s ability to survive,” according to the endocrinologists at Hormone Health Network.

“This reaction causes air passages to dilate to provide the muscles with the oxygen they need to either fight danger or flee. Adrenaline also triggers the blood vessels to contract to re-direct blood toward major muscle groups, including the heart and lungs. Adrenaline causes a noticeable increase in strength and performance, as well as heightened awareness, in stressful times.”

There are scads of options for heart-pounding off-hours pursuits for nurses who have come to enjoy the adrenaline sensation.

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These Georgia options for adrenaline junkies may never produce the same rush as working in a busy emergency room, but they can come close and they almost always provide a happy ending:

Race around at Andretti Karting (1255 Roswell Road, Marietta). Sure, go-karting is for kids. But enlightened adult adrenaline junkies know that Andretti also offers heart-pounding pro-racing simulators, with an option to “race” against your friends. Oh, yeah, there’s also an XD Dark Ride with laser blasters that combines the sensations of roller coasters and, uh, combatting zombies.

Ride or drive a race car. Promoters like the Richard Petty Driving Experience (Atlanta Motor Speedway, 1500 Tara Place, Hampton) let regular folks drive or ride in race cars. Just make sure you allow plenty of time for planning, since the schedule varies and you must book online ahead of time. A bucket list item, for sure.

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Hike Amicalola Falls (418 Amicalola Falls State Park Road, Dawsonville) An exhilarating ascent alongside a 729-foot waterfall is perfect for nurse adrenaline junkies who are also physically fit. (There is also a gentler incline that will still take you to the top of the falls, where a bridge built over the falls reveals an awe-inspiring view of the piedmont far below.) If you want to make a weekend North Georgia mountains trip, Amicalola also features a lavish lodge complete with, you guessed it, zip lining.

See a scary movie. A heart-pounding fright doesn’t require leaving your chair: A thriller or chiller can do the trick right from some comfy movie theater seating. In addition to taking the opportunity to watch the latest scary movies at the more traditional theaters, Midtown Art Cinema (Midtown Promenade Center, 931 Monroe Drive NE, Atlanta) runs a series of classics that sometimes involve a horror film, like “A Clockwork Orange.” Or you can always hit the Starlight Drive-In Theatre (2000 Moreland Ave. SE, Atlanta) for an extra chilly atmosphere when watching the newest horror releases.

Skydive indoors. iFLY Atlanta (2778 Cobb Parkway, Atlanta) provides a vertical wind tunnel and veteran trainers so thrill seekers can skydive inside, without leaving the city.

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