14th November 2013

Active body, active mind


Click here to enter the Active Lifestyles GeoVation ChallengeThe guest post below from Andy Middleton, Founder and Director of TYF, explains why he is excited to be supporting and chairing the judging panel in our latest GeoVation Challenge to encourage active lifestyles in Britain.

There can be few greater pleasures at the end of a hard spell of work than to take your whole being into the outdoors to soak up adrenaline, endorphins, inspiration and the joy of being alive. Whatever our chosen vehicle of exploration, be it boat, bike, board or feet, the rewards of time well spent outdoors are so great that once experienced enough times, their draw on our psyche becomes hard wired and they easily and happily become part of life.


Photo courtesy of Paul Villecourt

The UK might be crowded compared to the wild spaces of other countries, but the one thing that’s not in short supply are the ways of getting out into that wildness. The challenge for our times is focus not on building more access points to the outdoors (though they’re

always welcome), but to work on the neural wiring that makes pulse-raising exercise or mind-quietening stillness the natural thing to do.  The Countryside & Rights of Way Act in 2000 created new rights of access over huge tracts of common land, mountain, moor, heath and down, and the Wales Coast Path gives access to the country’s entire coastline are two small examples of projects that open up opportunities for exploration and discovery in Britain’s great outdoors. It’s not access to the countryside itself that’s usually the challenge, but motivation, knowledge and know-how, and these are best built into the heart, and at a young age.


US-born Edward Abbey was one of the most iconoclastic lovers of the wildness of nature; he was loved by those who shared his passion for exploration, and watched very carefully by the FBI, who were less than sure that government-approved motives were behind his calls to action. That’s another story though. There was a sparse logic to his writing that’s as compelling a reason as any to get outdoors: “One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast….a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive [them]”


Photo courtesy of Paul Villecourt

At TYF, we’ve launched the Adventure 100 project for the children born today who will live to be centenarians and for others looking forward to an adventurous old age. It’s been fun plotting the sequence of activities and experiences that will be support a lifetime of exploring, experimenting and staying young at heart. What I most look forward to with this new Geovation Challenge is the certainty that smart, passionate people will be coming up with new ways of connecting data, digital and discovery to make the journeys that those centenarians and their forebears that bit more interesting and compelling. Let the journey begin!

So, if you’re ready to get started on the journey and  you have an idea that could encourage people to get active, have a look at some of the problems we identified and  enter the GeoVation Challenge online . The challenge runs to 8 January 2014 and the best ideas will be selected to receive a share of £100, 000 in funding to develop their business ventures.