Recreation is the next building block of a thriving lifestyle. In some ways, it may seem to overlap with our study of rest, and in other ways it is rather the opposite of “ceasing from motion.” Therefore, today we will define recreation in comparison to rest as well the common practice of entertainment. Additionally, we will look at the health benefits that come with the “package” of recreation.
Recreation is derived from the Latin word recreare: re (again) and creare (make or beget). It is anything fun that renews or revitalizes us--typically it involves social or outdoor activity. Your line of work and interests will greatly determine your choice of recreation. If you have a desk job, then pool going for hikes will likely be renewing. However, if you have a more physically demanding job, you may want to divert to an activity that is more social or strategic. If the practice of recreation is new to your lifestyle, the following reflection may help you discover where to start: Ask yourself, “What activity is exciting and enjoyable? It doesn’t drain me (although it may challenge me physically), but leaves me feeling more alive because it suits my personality and interests?”
You may have noticed from the definition above that while our recreation may be “restful” and may overlap with proper rest, it should not fully replace rest. Remember, I defined rest according to 3 categories: work-life balance, sleep, and fasting. Thus, recreation and rest may overlap in the “work-life balance” category, but is quite separate from sleep and fasting. We need to intentionally include both, recreation and rest, in our lifestyle.
To many, recreation could also be confused with entertainment. Entertainment is from the Latin word intertenere: intere (among or across) and tenere (hold or keep). It is in essence the activities which hold our attention--typically it involves us watching or listening rather than engaging in something. A performance, show, or game are all examples of entertainment, whether they are in person or on TV. It is true that these may have “refreshing” elements to them, however, they have not been shown to produce the same health benefits of recreation as defined above.
The degree of health benefits received from recreation will vary depending upon the chosen activity. Studies show that participating in various forms of recreation result in three benefits: improved psychological health, the creation of social support, as well as restored/enhanced physical health.  While entertainment can be both educational and fun, studies reveal that when it takes away from our recreational time, it results in lower life satisfaction.  For example, if we are less active and more isolated when watching TV, we will particularly miss out on the physical and social health cultivated through recreation, such as taking a walk with friends.
Balance is definitely the key to successfully incorporate these areas of rest and recreation into our lives. If we focus too much on recreation, at the neglect of rest, we will become burnt out. Also, as discussed above, if entertainment becomes our outlet for recreation, we will miss out on the health benefits exclusive to the more renewing activities. As you establish this balance in your lifestyle, allow the process of incorporating recreation to be one of discovery and fun!
If you have questions or comments for Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Maria Adam, contact her at thrivinghealthNY.com.