AJHE Table of Contents

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

Rebecca A. Battista and Stephanie T. West

Childhood obesity continues to be a concern in the United States; 32% of children and youth aged 2–19 years are either obese or overweight. Factors
related to obesity and overweight include, but are not limited to, diet and physical inactivity. With respect to youth, of particular concern are not only the declining rates of physical activity participation but also the increasing amount of time spent in sedentary activities. Nonetheless, the benefits of being physically active are considered as a preventative measure to other chronic conditions (eg, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders) that are increasing in this young age group. Thus, encouraging youth to participate in any type of physical activity is critical to impacting overall health.

Physical activity recommendations for youth in the United States include participation in at least 60 minutes daily. However, evidence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that less than 16% of adolescents actually met these requirements. One suggestion regarding the lack of physical activity participation is that opportunities for youth to engage in the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day appear to be increasingly limited. There are at least 2 possible explanations for this. First, adolescents spend a considerable amount of their day in school, with limited time allocated for being active. In addition to being in school, it has been shown that students in the United States spend as much as 6–8 hours a day being sedentary. Second, there has been a decline in required physical education in high schools. For example, specific to the United States,
though lower grade levels often have mandated requirements for daily physical activity opportunities in either physical education or recess, high schools may now only require one year of physical education. Together, these factors lead to the need for encouraging youth to be physically active outside of the school day and providing them with opportunities for activities other than sports.

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