Recreation, leisure, activity, and play surrounds humans from the moment of birth until the ending stages of life. Leisure is many times seen as freedom, motivation and positive affect. Our health depends on many internal and external factors and the concept of life enrichment is no different; Ones recreation and leisure depends on several lifestyle and functional factors. Several benefits of leisure participation have been documented and researched, which correlate to health and well-being. These advantages are noticed in major categories of human functioning like, physical, emotional, psychological, and social.

 

Physical Health and Leisure

The body answers to physical activity in aspects that have a critical positive outcome on the cardiovascular, raspatory, and endocrine systems. Research not only shows regular participation in physical activity can reduce risks of coronary heart disease, hypertension, and colon cancer; It also appears to reduce depression and anxiety, improve mood, and enhance ability to perform daily tasks throughout the life span.

Physical leisure can also help people bypass developing functional limitations, can improve physical function, and can provide therapeutic advantages for people with heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, arthritis, lung disease, and other chronic diseases. Physical leisure doesn’t have to be demanding to take in the benefits. For example, A simple 30-minute walk or stretching session majority of days of the week will do the trick.

 

Emotional and Psychological Health and Leisure

A crucial aspect to overall quality of life is emotional well-being. Mental health is defined as positive functioning that consists of 6 dimensions of phycological well-being: Self-acceptance, positive relations with others, personal growth, purpose in life, environmental mastery, and autonomy. According to several studies conducted by University Recreational Therapy Departments, an individual who can check all those boxes is flourishing emotionally and socially feeling a high level of well-being.  Positive emotions create an upward spiral for future positive emotions and enhances stress-coping. The opposite effect, pessimistic thinking, negative emotions, eventually can lead to depression.

A number of research ad studies have found evidence of the following psychological benefits of leisure participation:

  • Improved self-exploration, self-identification, and self-actualization.
  • Improved opportunities for planning , making choices, and taking responsibility.
  • Improved opportunities for expression of freedom, control, and intrinsic motivation.
  • Improved ability to prevent, mange, and cope with stress.
  • Improved ability to adjust to be less distressed by negative life events.
  • Decreased symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Improved quality of life, life satisfaction, and psychological well-being.

 

Social Health and Leisure

Social well-being consists of at least two major concepts, social adjustment and social support. Social adjustment relates to a combination of satisfaction with relationships, and adjustment to one’s social environment. Leisure is a largely social phenomenon. Leisure helps build social support networks and social support. Social support, the level at which an individual feels cared for and attended to by significant others often is displayed during leisure. It is at that point in time when leisure plays a critical role in the development and enhancement of social relationships. Social Support networks are key to an individuals health, wellness, and quality of life.

 

Information from Norma J Stumbo and Carol Annn Peterson.

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