New Texas A&M Study: Geocaching Improves Physical and Mental Health

GEAR study

1,000 geocachers volunteered to be part of the first ever major study of geocaching and its effect on health. The 14-month Texas A&M study called Geocaching for Exercise and Activity Research (GEAR) launched in January of 2013. The first set of results from the study were presented on November 5 at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in Boston.

Each of the participants were given devices to track their movement and a logbook to record their level of geocaching intensity. The first results showed the effects of regular geocaching. Researcher Whitney says, “The GEAR study has identified an association between geocaching and improved health.”

Another researcher, Garney, goes on to say, “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.” In addition, research showed that geocachers reported fewer days of poor physical and mental health compared to state level data.

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Follow Geocaching on Instagram for more epic and inspirational geocaching pics http://instagram.com/gogeocaching

These findings are still preliminary, but nevertheless we’re excited about them. The study concludes in early 2014 and final data will be analyzed and presented later that year.

The health benefits of geocaching are often the subject of emails to Geocaching HQ. Have you lost weight geocaching or sharpened your mental skills? Share your stories about improving your health through geocaching in the comments below.

  • Starthru

    Geocaching was my exercise used to lose 45 pounds (25% of my body weight!)lower my blood pressure and get my cholesterol down to healthy levels in less than a year. I firmly believe that the study will confirm what I learned first hand. Geocaching is the best sort of exercise…both physical and mental!

  • Congrats! That’s such a powerful story. Thanks for sharing… ~ Eric

  • Mom4allseasons

    So, wandering aimlessly around a roughly 100 sq. foot area for 45 minutes not finding a cache–does that count? 😉

  • Ben Appleford

    I’ve ben Geocaching for almost 6 months now. I love it!
    I am an active person already, but since getting involved in Geocaching I have found myself exploring new places a whole lot more and seeing things I would have never known about. That’s one of the things I love the most, finding those secret places only a few people know about.
    As a PE teacher I try to keep classes interesting by changing up what we do, and studies have shown that this influences motivation to participate. The same thing can be said with Geocaching, I’m not walking/running the same old trail everyday for my exercise, I’m keeping things fresh and interesting.
    As for mental health, I couldn’t agree more that it has positive effect, I look at the world so much more closely now, seeing potential hides everywhere I go, its also fantastic learning all the new things you have to if you want to solve a puzzle or mystery cache.
    I recently completed a multi stage puzzle cache in north eastern Victoria (Australia). The final few WPs had me out bush, and my adventurous 2WD was only getting me so far. I ended up riding a mountain bike for about 20km that day, ran (due to limited time) about 8km, and made my way through some pretty dense bushland for about 4km. An absolutely brilliant cache, and filled with famous Australian history, which wasn’t being highlighted by the local area. After the final cache was found I ran back to my car and headed back home to play basketball that night, I shouldn’t need to convince you, but I was exhausted. Geocaching (can) = extreme physical exertion.
    I can see myself doing this for a long time to come, and the health benefits are a completely welcome side note to a fun game.

  • MtnProf

    Absolutely! Its the quest that counts.

  • SFC Christopher Ritter

    Yes on all counts and also, sharpens my scan for anything out of place. A great attribute here in Afghanistan…..

  • Natalie

    I participated in this study, and I can definitely say that geocaching has made me walk, climb, scramble, etc..in places I never would have thought of 4 years ago. I am in better health. Sadly, I’m running out of caches in my area, and have to drive to cache.

  • Natalie

    Stay safe and thank you for your service.

  • Jim Parker

    Hummm… how come they didn’t ask me to be a part in their study???

  • mugichan


  • Karen Walker Gissendanner

    It’s also a great way to meet some awesome people!! I have been caching for 7 years and my best friends are fellow cachers.. I even met my husband through caching 🙂 My physical and mental health have greatly improved. I moved from a hot climate to a snowy climate and geocaching has been my salvation for getting outside in all kinds of weather. Keeps me moving!

  • Thavia

    I am participating in this study too. I’m no longer a cough potato and definitely walking/hiking more than I did before I started geocaching. But my geocaching activity of hiking on weekends has not changed from when I started the study. For my participation, I received a beautiful gold geocoin with the study’s logo and will earn another trackable if I complete the whole year.

  • StickBouncer

    I suffer from Depression and anxiety which is complicated by the fact that I am also on the Autism Asperges spectrum. Physically I am okay thanks to having 2 dogs. Geocaching is great for my mental health and I am gaining a bit of a reputation for my field puzzles. This is, I believe, due to the way my brain works. Without caching I would not have such a release nor would I be respected by my peers.

  • CacheHownds

    At a time when I needed an activity, I fully credit Geocaching with singlehandedly getting my butt off of the couch! Since then (last year) it’s become a family activity and re-kindled my love affair of the outdoors and hiking. This combined with a change in my food intake, I’ve lost 40 pounds in the last year.

  • AeroMechAZ

    Excellent, Starthru! I’ve done pretty much the same thing (minus the weight loss – I’m not considered ‘overweight’ by my Drs at the VA), but in my case it was the lowering of my cholesterol thanks to Geocaching AND my statin meds). Last year, when I had my annual Stress test, I wasn’t able to finish Stage 3; this year, I ‘breezed’ all the way through it!

  • GAtraveler

    Much of the advantages of improving mental health come from being outdoors, problem solving (both solving puzzles and looking for a tricky hiding spot), and meeting other cachers at events. As far a physical activity it goes without saying; since starting caching 3 years ago I have climbed up and down endless stairs, walked miles to sign my name, canoed to u reachable spots and even climbed a few trees to be rewarded with over 6000 smiley faces representing all of my finds.