Orienteering: The Ultimate Health Sport

Posted on May 20, 2010

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A fortnight ago a colleague alerted me to a Radio National interview on Exercise Matters: brain exercise. In the interview, Dr Michael Valenzuala from the School of Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales suggested that orienteering was likely to be an ideal exercise for brain health owing to simultaneous benefits of cardiovascular stress (and subsequent increased cerebral blood flow) and cognitive function. John Harding from Orienteering Australia also picked up on the interview, as well as another article that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald about the benefits of green sport in which University of Canberra colleague Dr James Neill was quoted. John wrote a brief news item on the stories pointing out its support for participation in orienteering for health reasons.

As a former Development Director for Orienteering Australia, I often wanted to get my hands on evidence that orienteering is one of the best sports for health, for the entire community. Of course I’m biased, but I wanted to collate evidence and write this blog, as I think despite the bias, this claim may well be true. So I am putting together a series of posts addressing the evidence of health benefits that link directly to orienteering. I intend to address the following themes (perhaps not in that order), as they relate to the sport of orienteering:

  • lifelong health
  • cardiovascular health
  • strength and balance health
  • psychological and social health
  • brain health
  • green health

Here’s hoping it doesn’t take too long to put these together.

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