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Discussion: New research on orienteering and brain health

in: Orienteering; General

Jan 21, 2023 1:29 AM # 
Hi everyone,

I am super excited to share some research that I have been working on over the past 3 years about the cognitive effects of orienteering.

You can find a press release and video here

and a link to the full open-access journal article here

Some of you on here may have even been a participant in this online questionnaire-based study a few years ago. If you were, I cannot thank you enough for your participation!
I hope you all enjoy reading this work. I am currently continuing researching the acute cognitive benefits of orienteering, and hope to share with the community when it is complete :)
Jan 21, 2023 1:39 AM # 
Excellent! I always thought orienteering is good for our brain, and now you've proved it. A+.
Jan 21, 2023 3:10 AM # 
Excellent research and thanks for sharing
Jan 21, 2023 4:29 AM # 
Thanks for sharing, and for doing the research!
Jan 21, 2023 4:39 AM # 
Great research and I’m pleased with your conclusions. :) Congratulations, Lead Author!
Jan 21, 2023 5:28 PM # 
My Google alert for the term "orienteering" returned this today:

Jan 21, 2023 9:44 PM # 
So cool!!
Jan 22, 2023 4:11 AM # 
Fantastic, Emma!
Jan 22, 2023 4:33 PM # 
@JanetT, it's interesting to see the different ways orienteering is (or isn't) described.

Emma, fantastic work! I'd love to see a longitudinal study that tracks spatial processing and spatial memory as people learn orienteering and after people stop orienteering.
Jan 23, 2023 2:04 PM # 
Emma this is wonderful! Congratulations. I love that you published in PLoS so we can see the whole article freely.

Navigation Games has a donor who has asked us how we measure the impact of teaching kids. We've been wanting to improve our assessments, which have been somewhat scattered. We have done some survey questions of middle school and high school kids about their experience in a field trip. We can see the improvement as kids become proficient at our games (perhaps these are formative assessments).

We may get a chance to work with some students taking an evaluation class at Harvard Graduate school of Education this spring. We'll meet with the professor this week, but my hope going into it is that we could get help defining what outcomes stakeholders most are about and generation of ideas for how to measure them. We've talked with another professor who mentioned existing tools for measuring self-confidence. I'd like to measure kids' ability to (say) remember and execute a task list. There are so many benefits we claim for our work... Which matter? Which are real?

Anyway, if you'd like to talk sometime and advise us on this, that would be wonderful!
Jan 23, 2023 6:23 PM # 
@Canadian - sounds cool, but that would be a VERY long longitudinal study to conduct!!
@barb - that sounds SO awesome, would love to chat more about this.
Jan 25, 2023 2:58 AM # 
This has been getting a ton of press coverage - maybe the single most positive media exposure for orienteering in a long time! Congratuations!
Jan 25, 2023 3:14 AM # 
Very interesting results,

I would be thinking, orienteering is a brutal, grueling sport, as such it results in an accelerated wear and tear of one's mind and body, and early decline, particularly for those who ran (semi)professionally while young.
I checked the recent photos of my competitors from 1980s, they look bad, some already dead. We did not eat well then, no vitamins, and were training like crazy.
Jan 25, 2023 3:33 AM # 
And living where?
Jan 25, 2023 12:27 PM # 
@jjcote - the sample of this study had participants from Canada, USA, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, UK, Australia, China, Czechia and I think, off the top of my head.
Jan 25, 2023 1:00 PM # 
Thanks Emma. But my question was to yurets, about where his bedraggled companions were/are living. (It may be a place where a lot of people are in rough shape these days.)
Jan 26, 2023 5:30 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
I assume you remember the Swedish study from a few years back, where they found that among all retired people, those who maintained an active lifestyle did better than the others (not surprisingly!), but one group did significantly better than all the rest and that was the orienteers.
There is of course some amount of self-selection, in that you need to maintain both body & mind in order to keep orienteering well into your seventies, but they supposedly tried to correct for this.
Jan 26, 2023 6:29 PM # 
There is a long established saying that goes "You don't slow down because you grow old. You grow old because you slow down."
This study seems to point to a parallel: "You don't stop thinking because you grow senile. You grow senile because you stop thinking."

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