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Are there any studies showing health benefit of caving and outdoor exercise?

David Rose

Active member
Following on from Adele Ward's article about the huge, positive impact caving has had on her life in the current BCA newsletter


I've pitched an article to the health section editor of the Mail on Sunday about how caving can be good for your health. It would also mention ways you can experience it - by signing in to the Wookey experience, or taking a trip with people such as Andy Sparrow and Yorkshire Dales Guides.

The editor is interested - but wonders whether there have been any academic studies showing how vigorous outdoor exercise does have long term health benefits. Does anyone know of any they can point me towards?


Jenny P

Active member
Just look at the BBC Breakfast item! 

That says it all - it's great fun and where else can you get soaking wet or jump into water while wearing your clothes and not be called a fool?


Active member
Meta analysis:


Specific research:


" outdoor natural environments may provide some of the best all-round health benefits by increasing physical activity levels with lower levels of perceived exertion, altering physiological functioning including stress reduction, restoring mental fatigue, and improving mood and self-esteem and perceived health. Thus, exercise within green spaces and the great outdoors may be a useful natural medicine "

From the Spanish (I don't know anything about this journal)

The journal frontiers in psychology has a whole research topic devoted to it:

A systematic review found exercise in nature is better than exercise indoors so get out of the gym and get in Peak cavern:

"Compared with exercising indoors, exercising in natural environments was associated with greater feelings of revitalization and positive engagement, decreases in tension, confusion, anger, and depression, and increased energy"

From a reputable source https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es102947t

And if you want to get a little more philosophical...


If you want .PDFs of any of these you have my email!



Active member
Quick search finds two.

Tuomas Immonen in Sports Med Open Dec 2017; 3: 18

Antoni: Energy expenditure in caving PLOS Feb 3, 2017

The first is probably closer to what you want. Some of the references are probably also worth a look. The second is quite interesting- classifies caving as a moderate energy expenditure activity.


I like this idea and I'm very happy to see caving being promoted, but why not include something like the new to caving website https://newtocaving.com which provides a range of ways to get involved in caving including clubs as well as the providers mentioned and others?

Jenny P

Active member
Absolutely agree that the New to Caving website needs a mention as it's really inspiring for people who want to know what caving is about.

2xW's collection of references is ace!  Their main drive is about natural environments: e.g. "... systematic review found exercise in nature is better than exercise indoors ..."; and a natural environment is just what a cave is!  And they also say "... Compared with exercising indoors, exercising in natural environments ..."; so they equate natural environments with not indoors.

It's almost ironic that we're talking about promoting caving as an "outdoor" activity, when Defra seems to be arguing that it is not!


Staff member
I am told that this is the definitive text which cites anything of value on this subject - heavy reading but comprehensive.


Obviously this is just a link to Oxford Press.  I don't know where you'd find this for free on line, but I thought it worth adding to the mix of replies.


Well-known member
I think caving certainly benefits your mental health. It was the ideal escape from the stresses of general practice.


Well-known member
Seems that way, another doctor I know took to kayaking after stressful shifts & ended up writing the guidebook!