SEATTLE - The search to find geocaches delivers never-before-known health benefits. Geocaching is an outdoor adventure where players use a GPS-guided app or GPS device to find hidden containers. Nearly 1,000,000 geocaches are currently hidden by players throughout the United States.
The Texas A&M Geocaching for Exercise and Activity Research (GEAR) study, funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to explore reducing rural obesity, tracked 1,000 geocachers throughout the U.S. over 12 months. The study identified adults who geocached at least once a week. Final analysis of the study conducted by the Texas A&M Center for Community Health Development began in April. Newly released results from that analysis conclude:
Geocachers reported improved health and fewers days of poor mental health and physical health than a comparative sample.
Study participants reported geocaching as a moderate physical activity for 134 minutes per week. The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week.
Active geocachers were 40% more likely to meet CDC recommendations for physical activity compared to non-frequent geocachers.
Study participants reported walking on average 10 miles a month while geocaching.
Study author Whitney Garney, M.P.H., says "GEAR participants who report geocaching once a week or more are more likely to meet national guidelines for physical activity and are more likely to report good or very good health status compared to those who geocache less frequently." Garney also says, "Geocaching is one option for people to have fun and be physically active at the same time without going to the gym and may be just what America needs to get moving."
Players can begin geocaching by signing up for a free account and downloading the free app.
Texas A&M and Geocaching.com are planning to continue their partnership and apply for additional funding to support further research. Geocaching.com along with Texas Parks and Wildlife also partnered in the GEAR study.
Texas A&M School of Public Health: Director of Communications Rae Lynn Mitchell firstname.lastname@example.org
Geocaching: Public Relations Manager Eric Schudiske email@example.com