The Use of Geocaching as a Form of Physical Activity in Youth



Background: In order to promote physical activity among youth, it is critical that communities offer options beyond sports that still provide similar health benefits. Purpose: Given the appeal of technology among today’s youth, the purpose of our study was to evaluate geocaching as a technology-based platform for promoting physical activity in youth. Methods: High school youth (N = 31) participated in 2 separate activity sessions, walking and geocaching. Accelerometers were worn and questions concerning perceived exertion and enjoyment were addressed at both sessions. Results: Although repeated measures t tests (P < .05) revealed no significant differences between activity sessions, each session yielded approximately 60 minutes of physical activity in a relatively inactive sample of youth. Additionally, the youth from the study reported that both walking and geocaching were enjoyable and relatively easy activities. Discussion: Results from this study do not suggest that geocaching would lead to greater activity levels than walking. Rather, geocaching was found to promote activity levels similar to walking. Translation to Health Education Practice: Given its use of technology and its application of challenge, geocaching may instead generate more interest than walking, leading to an increased interest among youth and, ultimately, an associated potential for additional physical activity.

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