Although it may not seem so, in reality, Leisure and Recreation is the largest industry in the world. The benefits of leisure and recreation as an important part of life are easy to see. As an industry, it offers a variety of related employment and creates billions of dollars in revenue. Workers in parks and recreation, community agencies, sports agencies, youth development organizations, non-profit organizations, rehab and hospital agencies, the travel and entertainment industries all utilize and benefit from parks and recreation facilities world-wide. Additional benefits of leisure and recreation include environmental improvements from expanding green spaces, health benefits, and personal satisfaction benefits.
For personal benefits, leisure activities may include:
Physical benefits include increased lung capacity from sports participation, plus reducing serum cholesterol and hypertension, increasing bone mass, strengthening the spine, reducing disease, increase in feelings of well being, reduction in stress hormones, improved attitudes and performances, and improved social skills. For childhood development, recreational areas assist in learning, can keep kids off the streets, and enhance their confidence. Studies confirm that physical activity can aid the learning process in children. Sports activities enhance large motor skill development and social skills. Adult leaders offer positive role models to children. Group sports are well known for promoting social support, networking, and developing friendships.
As if all the above is not enough to encourage support of leisure and recreational activities, consider the following additional benefits:
Stress management – the mild stress of leisure activity can reduce overall negative stress by contributing to relaxation.
Self esteem – especially in children and seniors, mild exercise, group activities, and hobbies and crafts will help create positive self images.
Positive lifestyle development – contributing to society, social interaction, development of leaders, being part of organized sports all encourage good lifetime activities.
Personal satisfaction – any creative outlet will enhance personal satisfaction. Being part of the leadership offers self satisfaction, and those who work in the recreational areas can feel the pride in keeping these areas vital and available to others.
Quality of life – fresh air, sunshine, social interaction, health benefits and self esteem all will improve quality of life.
Preventative health – regular exercise, physiological benefits from mild exercise, and stress reduction all are made easier by having leisure and recreational activities readily available.
Since the future seems to be headed for a shorter work week and more extra time, support of leisure and recreational outlets and locations would be prudent, and benefit all involved.