In our fast-paced society, taking time for healthy leisure activities that promote physical and mental health is essential. Whether you enjoy spending time outdoors or prefer more low-key pursuits, there are plenty of healthy options for all ages, interests, and abilities, and you can gain many benefits from leisure pursuits.
Categories Of Healthy Leisure Activities
While different people will have other ideas about what constitutes healthy leisure activities, there are some general categories that most activities will fit into.
A. Physical activities:
Anything that gets you moving and increases your heart rate can be considered a healthy physical activity. The movement could include walking, biking, swimming, jogging, gardening, or playing sports.
B. Creative activities:
These are activities that allow you to express your creative side. Hobbies such as drawing or painting, or more complex like sculpting, woodworking, or playing an instrument, are examples of creative activities.
C. Cognitive activities:
Activities that challenge your mind and help keep your brain healthy and sharp fall into this category. They can include reading, doing crossword puzzles, playing chess, or learning a new language.
D. Social activities:
Quality time spent talking with or sharing a leisure activity with family and friends is vital for maintaining healthy relationships and reducing stress levels. Social activities include anything from attending a concert or going out to eat to playing cards or participating in a book club.
Healthy Leisure Activities For Specific Groups
There are also healthy leisure activities that are offered to specific groups of people:
- Seniors: Older adults often have more time for leisure pursuits than younger adults. However, they may not be as physically able to do some activities as they once did. These include Tai Chi, gentle stretching classes, walking clubs, social dancing, or adapted activities created by a Therapeutic Recreation Specialist.
- Children and teens: Kids and adolescents need plenty of physical activity to help them grow and develop properly, but other healthy leisure activities are also crucial for this age group. These can include creative pursuits like painting and acting, as well as cognitive activities like playing chess and doing puzzles.
- Individuals with disabilities: There are many healthy leisure activities that people of all abilities can enjoy. For example, wheelchair basketball and swimming are two sports in which people with physical disabilities can participate. In addition, many adaptive recreational activities, such as horseback riding and hiking, are also enjoyed by people with a wide range of abilities.
Making Healthy Leisure Happen
To make sure you’re getting the most out of your healthy leisure activities:
- Find leisure pursuits that you enjoy and that fit with your lifestyle. If you don’t enjoy an activity, you will not likely stick with it.
- Healthy leisure activities should be challenging but not too difficult. They should also be something you can do regularly.
- Healthy leisure activities should be safe. Ensure you educate yourself on the activity and body mechanics before starting, and always follow safety guidelines.
When it comes to healthy leisure activities, there’s something for everyone.
Healthy Leisure vs. Unhealthy Leisure
People often assume that all leisure activities are healthy. However, this is not always the case. Some leisure activities can be pretty unhealthy.
What does “healthy” really mean? According to the World Health Organization, health is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
So when we talk about healthy leisure activities, we’re talking about actions that help you achieve complete physical, mental and social well-being. They are activities you enjoy and make you feel physically and mentally sound. Healthy activities include walking, biking, swimming, jogging, gardening, playing sports, puzzles, and reading.
On the other hand, unhealthy leisure activities can harm your physical or mental health. They are activities you do not enjoy or make you feel physically or mentally bad. Unhealthy leisure activities can include:
- Watching television for extended periods.
- Playing video games for long periods.
- Indulging in harmful activities like excessive drinking or drug use.
- Engaging in other risky behaviors.
Recent research from Neurology has suggested that a decrease in leisure time may increase our risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The study found that people who didn’t have enough leisure time were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, especially people who didn’t have enough time for social activities. So if you’re looking for ways to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s, make sure you include some leisure time in your schedule.
Be aware of the difference between healthy and unhealthy leisure activities, choose healthy activities that promote your well-being, and avoid harmful activities.
Healthy Leisure And Your Health Status
There is a link between leisure physical activities and health. According to The World Health Organization, people who engage in healthy leisure activities have a decreased chance of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer”. Physical activity also reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Some other benefits of healthy leisure activities include:
|Improving Physical and Mental Health||Moodiness and low self-esteem often go hand-in-hand. When we don’t feel good about ourselves, it’s easy to become withdrawn and irritable. Fortunately, healthy leisure activities can help to reduce moodiness and build confidence.|
|Reducing Stress & Promoting Relaxation||In today’s fast-paced world, finding ways to relax and de-stress is crucial. Otherwise, we can become overwhelmed and bogged down by our obligations. Healthy leisure activities provide a much-needed respite from the everyday grind and can help us refocus and recharge.|
|Improving Mental Sharpness||Productivity is often associated with workaholicism and long hours spent in the office. However, healthy leisure activities can increase productivity by reducing stress and improving mental strength.|
|Boosting The Immune System||The body is an engine and healthy leisure activities keeps the engine running optimally.|
|Healthy Sleep||Being content physically and mentally through leisure activites our bodies rest fully to recharge for the next adventure.|
|Improving Social Skills||Healthy leisure activities provide a sense of accomplishment and can help us forget about our troubles. They also allow us to socialize and meet new people.|
|Fostering Creativity||When engaged in the world around us via our lesiure activities thoughts creatively expand.|
What Do People Who Engage In Healthy Leisure Look Like?
What comes to mind when you think of someone who engages in healthy leisure activities? Maybe you picture someone fit and active, who enjoys being outdoors, or who is calm and relaxed.
Healthy leisure comes in all shapes and sizes, so there is no one “type” of person who engages in them. Instead, people of all ages, backgrounds, and interests can enjoy healthy leisure activities. So if you want to improve your health and well-being, ensure you include healthy leisure activities in your life!
How to Choose The Best Leisure Activities For Your Body & Mind
Here are a few things to consider when choosing healthy leisure activities:
- Your physical health: Choose activities that are appropriate for your fitness level and don’t put undue strain on your body.
- Your mental health: Choose activities that make you feel good and help you relax and de-stress.
- Your schedule: Make sure you choose activities that fit your schedule and can realistically commit to.
- Your interests: Choose activities you enjoy and hold your interest as this will make healthy leisure more enjoyable and sustainable in the long run. You can start by reviewing if you are satisfied with your current leisure. Try our quiz Am I Satisfied With My Leisure as it will be helpful to you to understand your interests.
How to Make Time for Healthy Leisure Activities
If you’re anything like me, finding time for leisure can be challenging. Between work, family, and social obligations, there never seems to be enough hours in the day. After all, how can you be your best self if you don’t take some time to relax and recharge? Consider these points when trying to create a balance between work and leisure:
- Don’t let work consume your life. Of course, work is essential, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you focus on. Make sure to spend time with family and friends and do something you enjoy outside work.
- Find a job that you enjoy. Finding a healthy balance between work and leisure can be frustrating if you don’t enjoy your job. On the other hand, balance is more effortless when you are in a career you’re passionate about, so you can look forward to going to work every day.
- Set aside some time: Dedicate at least 30 minutes daily to healthy leisure activities. Find the time that works for you, first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, or at night before bed.
- Make healthy leisure a priority: Write it in your calendar as an appointment so neither you nor other books that time for something else. Just like with other essential things in your life, you need to give healthy leisure a priority in your schedule by making time for healthy leisure activities even when you’re feeling busy or overwhelmed.
- Find healthy leisure activities that fit into your existing routine: Many healthy activities can be done while you’re already doing something else. For example, you can turn on an audiobook while you’re cooking dinner or take a brisk walk around the block while you are on your way to run errands.
- Get creative: There are endless possibilities for leisure activities, so get creative and find what works best for you.
- Talk to a professional: Your doctor can help you identify healthy activities that are appropriate for your individual needs. Make an appointment with a recreational therapist to discuss your specific needs.
- Start small: Don’t try to do too much too soon. Instead, pick one or two activities that you can realistically commit to for three months.
4 Healthy Leisure Activities for All Ages
There are many different healthy leisure activities that people of all ages can enjoy. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Walking: Walking is a great way to get some exercise while also enjoying the outdoors. It’s perfect for all ages and can be done outside or inside.
Swimming: Swimming is a low-impact activity that is great for your physical and mental health. Cooling off on hot days in public or home pool is also great.
Yoga: Yoga is a relaxing and gentle exercise in which people of all ages and fitness levels can participate.
Read a Book: Research about hobbies and see how you feel internally about trying the activity or try reading for entertainment.
Whether participating in physical, creative, cognitive, or social activities, healthy leisure will be integral to living a balanced life.