What Are Recreational Activities? | Reference.com

Recreational activities are activities that are mostly done for pleasure. They may help improve mental and physical health, as well as relieve stress and help you rest. Recreational activities are typically done away from work, school and day-to-day life duties and by people of all ages. They can be as passive as reading a book or as active as swimming or hiking.

Mental Benefits of Recreational Activities 

Not only are recreational activities usually fun, but they can benefit your mental health. They reduce stress, remove anxiety, build self-esteem and improve general mood and happiness. Studies show that people who participate in recreational activities regularly are more satisfied with their lives. 

Physical Benefits of Recreational Activities 

Both active and passive recreational activities can help improve physical health too. Active recreational activities double as exercise. This can help you lose weight and stay in shape. Any type of recreational activity that’s relaxing or reduces stress may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Those who participate in recreational activities tend to enjoy higher quality sleep as well. 

Social Benefits of Recreational Activities 

Recreational activities have social benefits too. Participating in activities that need more than one person can help build relationships and improve interpersonal skills. Even solo recreational activities provide you with a passion that you can share with others. Families can grow closer while participating in such activities together. And recreation can bring communities together through activities like team sports or gardening.  

Other Benefits of Recreational Activities 

Recreational activities may break down barriers by bringing people from different cultures together. They can help reduce crime rates in communities by providing children and young people with a healthy alternative. Because people who participate in recreational activities are healthier physically and mentally, these activities can help lower health care costs. They can even be good for the economy. Communities that provide parks and other places where people can participate in their favorite activities may attract visitors and new residents to towns.  

Indoor Recreational Activities

There are many ways to divide recreational activities into groups, but many people choose to split them between indoor and outdoor activities. Many activities, like reading, skating, walking, listening to music and playing basketball, can be done both indoors and outdoors. Some other popular activities that are often performed indoors include chess, table tennis, cards, boxing, bowling, board games and squash.  

Outdoor Recreational Activities 

Many recreational activities are performed outdoors. Studies suggest that spending time outdoors is good for mental and physical health. So, taking part in such an activity can provide an extra health boost. Some of the most popular outdoor recreational activities include:

  • Horseback riding
  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Fishing
  • Camping
  • Kayaking
  • Skiing
  • Surfing
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Team sports 

Most Popular Recreational Activities in the United States 

In the United States, people who participate in recreational activities tend to prefer outdoor activities. According to a 2019 poll conducted by the National Recreation and Park Association, getting together with friends at parks for games, barbecues and picnics is the country’s favorite way to spend downtime. Swimming or spending time at a pool and walking or hiking along nature trails also make the top three. Other popular activities on the list include: 

  • Running
  • Camping
  • Team sports
  • Community events
  • Racquet sports
  • Attending performance arts events

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