The contributions of leisure and active recreation to health and well-being
The connection between health and physical activity is widely discussed. Along with poor nutrition and smoking, insufficient physical activity is among the top three modifiable risk factors for chronic disease and premature death according to the World Health Organization. Statistics show that almost one-third of the world’s population is insufficiently active. Many people today are physically active as part of their recreation or leisure. Therefore, the purpose of this paper was to present an overview of literature that has explored the relationships that leisure and active recreation have to health and well-being. Research, both qualitative and quantitative, has been conducted in the past decade to examine the benefits that leisure and recreation can contribute to healthy and active living. Much of the previous research has focused on individual behavior. However, research conducted in the past two decades has used the core assumption of social ecology, which addresses the multiple facets of the physical and social environments that influence the well-being of people. In this paper, the aspects discussed were framed by the social ecological model of intrapersonal, interpersonal, community and environment, and policy opportunities and influences. The relationship between the social and physical environments is linked to both physical and mental health. Further, the potential for leisure and recreation to facilitate active living and health exists regardless of age, gender, income, or ethnic background.
Keywords: Recreation, leisure, health, social ecology, environments.