Recreation for Health

As sedentary lifestyles become significantly more common, the average time spent sitting continues to increase across America.  While planned exercise routines have many known benefits, it has been shown that additional recreational activities during free time also boost health. At times, going running or hitting the gym feels monotonous and repetitive. However, incorporating recreation such as hiking or going for a horseback rides can be a fun way to improve physical health as well as mental wellness.

According to Dr. Laura L Payne of the University of Illinois, people who take part in recreational activities are linked with lower systolic blood pressure, healthier body mass indexes, and less frequent doctor visits than those who do not. Using free time to do active recreational activities increases calories spent and keeps blood flowing far more than sedentary alternatives.

For example, swimming is a common summertime leisure activity that can burn upwards of 600 calories an hour. It is easy on the joints and improves endurance, allowing for a low-impact strength building option of recreation. Cross-country skiing is another common seasonal activity that can burn upwards of 700 calories per hour. It provides a full-body workout, engaging the shoulders, back, chest, core and legs. It also improves coordination and reaction time. Such recreation options are available in every season.

Mental wellness also plays a significant role in recreation. Participating in active recreational activities can also help manage stress and reduce feelings of depression, according to a 2005 California State Parks report. For example, a study examined by the Harvard Medical School found that a brisk walk of 35 minutes or more did as much to assist in depression and anxiety as taking certain anti-depressants. This time also allows for processing of emotions and coping with needs.

Thus, whether you enjoy going for a stroll or sailing around the lake, recreational activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. The physical and mental benefits, along with the added pleasure of participating in enjoyable activities make it time well spent.