If being more active is one of your New Year's resolutions, why not try orienteering?
More and more people are discovering that orienteering is a fun and challenging activity that gets them exploring the great outdoors. They are gaining new skills in finding their way in unknown terrain and crossing rough and sometimes hilly ground. You are always discovering somewhere new! It's a competitive sport with something for everyone, from 10-year-olds to grandpas and grandmas.
The sport of orienteering offers many benefits, but its foremost attraction is that it is fun!
Here are just five health benefits of orienteering.
- Time outdoors is great for us physiologically:
For one it improves our Vitamin D levels. Getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D is important for normal growth and development of bones and teeth, as well as improved resistance against certain diseases. The Vitamin D Council says “your body is designed to get the vitamin D it needs by producing it when your bare skin is exposed to sunlight”.
- Increased time being outdoors with nature improves people’s health and happiness:
Increased time being outdoors with nature has been shown to significantly improve people’s health and happiness. The UK’s first month-long nature challenge, which took place in 2015 by the University of Derby involved people "doing something wild" every day for 30 consecutive days. It showed that children exposed to the natural showed increases in self-esteem. They also felt it taught them how to take risks, unleashed their creativity and gave them a chance to exercise, play, and discover. In some cases nature can significantly improve the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), providing a calming influence and helping them concentrate. “Intuitively we knew that nature was good for us as humans, but the results were beyond brilliant.” said Lucy McRobert, Nature Matters Campaigns Manager for The Wildlife Trusts.
- Increased cardiovascular capacity:
Orienteering involves walking, jogging and running, often in rough terrain. All three of these activities increase aerobic capacity and cardiovascular strength. The Department of Health in their Start Active, Stay Active report state “regular physical activity can reduce the risk of many chronic conditions including coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, mental health problems and musculoskeletal conditions.”
- Sharpens decision making skills:
Orienteering offers the development of individual skills in navigating while problem solving to locate each control. Decision making is paramount: Should I go left or right? Should I climb that hill or go the long way around it? These decisions that constantly arise require thinking more than quick reactions or instinct; again, that is why orienteering is often called the thinking sport.
Research shows even one 30-minute cardio session pumps extra blood to your brain, delivering the oxygen and nutrients it needs to perform at max efficiency. Cardio also floods the brain with chemicals that enhance functions such as memory, problem solving, and decision-making.
- Balance between the physical and the mind:
The ultimate quest for the orienteer is to find that balance between mental and physical exertion, to know how fast they can go and still be able to interpret the terrain around them and execute their route choice successfully.
Interested, but want to find more about the sport of orienteering. This set of Frequently Asked Questions will help you to find out more.