More and more people are discovering that orienteering is a fun and challenging activity that gets them exploring the great outdoors.
The challenge is to discover checkpoints in the form of posts or plaques, in forests, heathlands, parks and green spaces across the UK. The combination of physical and mental exercise often in stunning locations is like no other, and you can find, navigate and complete courses at any time, and at your own pace.
The sport of orienteering offers many benefits, but its foremost attraction is that it’s great fun!
1. Time outdoors is great for us physiologically:
For one it improves our Vitamin D levels. Getting enough vitamin D is important for normal growth and development of bones and teeth, as well as improved resistance against certain diseases.
2. 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.
3. Increased cardiovascular capacity:
Orienteering involves walking, jogging, and running, often in rough terrain. All three of these activities increase aerobic capacity and cardiovascular strength.
4. 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.
5. 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.
The sport of Orienteering is the perfect activity for not only National Fitness Day but can be enjoyed all year round.
Permanent and Virtual (GPS / Smartphone) Orienteering Courses are a great way to get outside and go orienteering at a time and place that suits you. Find out more and visit: www.goorienteering.org.uk and use the search facility to locate your next orienteering adventure.
British Orienteering's new web portal is useful to help you find Permanent and Virtual Orienteering Courses; www.GoOrienteering.org.uk.
Here you can use the postcode search facility, choose a location, download the map and get started.
Just enter you postcode or theh area you want to visit and explore. There are a list of other options too, for example you can select from Parkland, Forest, Town, as well as the number of miles you would like the search to be within. Then simply click on the 'Search' button on the top right.
Read through the different courses available, download a map and Go Orienteering!
Interested, but want to know more? Check out this video produced by The Orienteering Foundation which explains more.