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Surfing, a form of recreation
Different kinds of recreation

Recreation is an activity of leisure, leisure being discretionary time.[1] The "need to do something for recreation" is an essential element of human biology and psychology.[2] Recreational activities are often done for enjoyment, amusement, or pleasure and are considered to be "fun".


The term recreation appears to have been used in English first in the late 14th century, first in the sense of "refreshment or curing of a sick person",[3] and derived turn from Latin (re: "again", creare: "to create, bring forth, beget").


“It’s time to take a break.” This is one of the most pleasant and most popular phrases to a child’s ear. It means that you can now start laughing, playing and joking around with your friends without the fear of being punished for disrupting studies. During break time, some play games while holding conversations with their friends; this is called leisure and recreation.

Leisure and recreation are two very important aspects of your life because they provide an opportunity to refresh your mind, discover and develop your talents and to make friends.

In fact, leisure and recreation are so important that they are included in the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. Article 12 says that children have a right to leisure, recreation and cultural activities.

Leisure and recreation have always been part of life. In the dark ages (a period of time between the 5th and 15th Century), people were subjected to hard labour and bad weather, and there were many wars. Leisure and recreation was mostly used to train people in certain skills such as the art of warfare; this is according to the article “Leisure in the dark ages” by Chuck Chapa, a blogger and researcher.

In the article “The History of Leisure and Recreation”, Gary Pearson, an author agrees with Chapa’s assertion. However, Pearson says that even with the hardship of this period of time, many games such as chess and checkers were developed, it is also during this time that Greeks invented the Olympics which are now an important international event.

Ancient Egypt was very developed regarding leisure and recreation; this is according to the article “History of Recreation” by the University of Manitoba. There was a very well-developed class system where the upper class liked to be entertained while the lower class participated in athletics and sports. Children played with marbles, bouncing balls and other toys.

This is to say that the recreational games that you know and love today were created a long time ago. Many studies show that most of the games originated from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Swimming, running, ball games and board games were all developed by 641AD.

With increase in technology, there have been many developments and additions to the list of recreational activities. For instance, you can now play computer games and watch movies as a way to relax and entertain yourself.

However, scientists continue to advocate for outdoor and physical recreation. While computer and phone games might sound cooler than outdoor activities, they do not provide nearly as many health, physical and social benefits as outdoor leisure and recreation activities do.

Prerequisites to leisure[edit]

Humans spend their time in activities of daily living, work, sleep, social duties, and leisure, the latter time being free from prior commitments to physiologic or social needs,[4] a prerequisite of recreation. Leisure has increased with increased longevity and, for many, with decreased hours spent for physical and economic survival, yet others argue that time pressure has increased for modern people, as they are committed to too many tasks.[5] Other factors that account for an increased role of recreation are affluence, population trends, and increased commercialization of recreational offerings.[6] While one perception is that leisure is just "spare time", time not consumed by the necessities of living, another holds that leisure is a force that allows individuals to consider and reflect on the values and realities that are missed in the activities of daily life, thus being an essential element of personal development and civilization;[1] this direction of thought has even been extended to the view that leisure is the purpose of work, and a reward in itself,[1] and "leisure life" reflects the values and character of a nation.[6] Leisure is considered a human right under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[7]

Play, recreation and work[edit]

Recreation is difficult to separate from the general concept of play, which is usually the term for children's recreational activity. Children may playfully imitate activities that reflect the realities of adult life, it has been proposed that play or recreational activities are outlets of or expression of excess energy, channeling it into socially acceptable activities that fulfill individual as well as societal needs, without need for compulsion, and providing satisfaction and pleasure for the participant.[8] A traditional view holds that work is supported by recreation, recreation being useful to "recharge the battery" so that work performance is improved. Work, an activity generally performed out of economic necessity and useful for society and organized within the economic framework, however can also be pleasurable and may be self-imposed thus blurring the distinction to recreation. Many activities may be work for one person and recreation for another, or, at an individual level, over time recreational activity may become work, and vice versa. Thus, for a musician, playing an instrument may be at one time a profession, and at another a recreation. Similarly, it may be difficult to separate education from recreation as in the case of recreational mathematics.[9]

Recreational activities[edit]

Recreation is an essential part of human life and finds many different forms which are shaped naturally by individual interests but also by the surrounding social construction.[2] Recreational activities can be communal or solitary, active or passive, outdoors or indoors, healthy or harmful, and useful for society or detrimental. A significant section of recreational activities are designated as hobbies which are activities done for pleasure on a regular basis. A list of typical activities could be almost endless including most human activities, a few examples being reading, playing or listening to music, watching movies or TV, gardening, fine dining, hunting, sports, studies, and travel; some recreational activities - such as gambling, recreational drug use, or delinquent activities - may violate societal norms and laws.

Public space such as parks and beaches are essential venues for many recreational activities. Tourism has recognized that many visitors are specifically attracted by recreational offerings.[10] In support of recreational activities government has taken an important role in their creation, maintenance, and organization, and whole industries have developed merchandise or services. Recreation-related business is an important factor in the economy; it has been estimated that the outdoor recreation sector alone contributes $730 billion annually to the U.S. economy and generates 6.5 million jobs.[11]

A park in New York City where people sunbathe and relax.

Recreation center[edit]

A recreation center is a place for recreational activities usually administered by a municipal government agency. Swimming, basketball, weightlifting, volleyball and kids' play areas are very common.[12][13]

Organized recreation[edit]

University of Auckland Recreation Centre

Many recreational activities are organized, typically by public institutions, voluntary group-work agencies, private groups supported by membership fees, and commercial enterprises.[14] Examples of each of these are the National Park Service, the YMCA, the Kiwanis, and Walt Disney World.

Health and recreation[edit]

Recreation has many health benefits, and, accordingly, Therapeutic Recreation has been developed to take advantage of this effect; the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) is the nationally recognized credentialing organization for the profession of Therapeutic Recreation. Professionals in the field of Therapeutic Recreation who are certified by the NCTRC are called "Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists"; the job title "Recreation Therapist" is identified in the U.S. Dept of Labor's Occupation Outlook; such therapy is applied in rehabilitation, psychiatric facilities for youth and adults, and in the care of the elderly, the disabled, or people with chronic diseases. Recreational physical activity is important to reduce obesity, and the risk of osteoporosis[15] and of cancer, most significantly in men that of colon and prostate,[16] and in women that of the breast;[17] however, not all malignancies are reduced as outdoor recreation has been linked to a higher risk of melanoma.[16] Extreme adventure recreation naturally carries its own hazards.

Recreation as a career[edit]

A recreation specialist would be expected to meet the recreational needs of a community or assigned interest group. Educational institutions offer courses that lead to a degree as a Bachelor of Arts in recreation management. People with such degrees often work in parks and recreation centers in towns, on community projects and activities. Networking with instructors, budgeting, and evaluation of continuing programs are common job duties.

In the United States, most states have a professional organization for continuing education and certification in recreation management; the National Recreation and Park Association administers a certification program called the CPRP (Certified Park and Recreation Professional)[18] that is considered a national standard for professional recreation specialist practices.

Recreation as e-commerce[edit]

Since the beginning of the 2000s, there are more and more online booking / ticketing platforms for recreational activities that emerged. Many of them leveraged the ever-growing prevalence of internet, mobile devices and e-payments to build comprehensive online booking solutions; the first successful batch includes tourist recreation activities platform like TripAdvisor that went public. More examples of recreational activities booking platform includes Klook and KKDay that came to the market after 2010s. For recreational activities within the home city of people, there are bigger breakthrough in China like DianPing, Reubird and FunNow; the emergence of these platforms infers the rising needs for recreation and entertainment from the growing urban citizens worldwide.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Thomas S. Yukic. Fundamentals of Recreation, 2nd edition. Harpers & Row, 1970, Library of Congress 70-88646. p. 1f.
  2. ^ a b Bruce C. Daniels (1995). Puritans at Play. Leisure and Recreation in Colonial New England. St. Martin's Press, New York. p. xi. ISBN 978-0-312-12500-4.
  3. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary
  4. ^ Yurkic TS (1970) page 2
  5. ^ Claudia Wallis (1983-06-06), "Stress: Can We Cope?", Time, retrieved October 31, 2010
  6. ^ a b McLean DD, Hurd AR, Rogers NB (2005). Kraus' Recreation and Leisure in Modern Society, 7th Edition. Jones and Bartlett. p. 1ff. ISBN 978-0-7637-0756-9.
  7. ^ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 24 (Text of Resolution), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (A/RES/217, 10 December 1948 at Palais de Chaillot, Paris)
  8. ^ Yukic TS, 1970, page 3f
  9. ^ Kulkarni, D. Enjoying Math: Learning Problem Solving With KenKen Puzzles Archived 2013-08-01 at the Wayback Machine, A textbook for teaching with KenKen Puzzles.
  10. ^ Queensland Government. "What is Recreation?". Archived from the original on April 1, 2009. Retrieved October 31, 2010.
  11. ^ Rechner (March 11, 2010). "Letter to the Editor: Outdoor recreation stimulates the economy". Washington Post. Retrieved November 2, 2010.
  12. ^ Recreation Centers, Clearwater, FL
  13. ^ Recreation Centers, New York City Department of Parks & Recreation
  14. ^ Yucik TS, 1970, page 62f
  15. ^ Smith, E. L.; Raab, D. M. (1986). "Osteoporosis and physical activity". Acta Medica Scandinavica. Supplementum. 711: 149–156. PMID 3535406.
  16. ^ a b Parent, M.; Rousseau, M.; El-Zein, M.; Latreille, B.; Désy, M.; Siemiatycki, J. (2010). "Occupational and recreational physical activity during adult life and the risk of cancer among men". Cancer Epidemiology. 35 (2): 151–159. doi:10.1016/j.canep.2010.09.004. PMID 21030330.
  17. ^ Breslow, R. A.; Ballard-Barbash, R.; Munoz, K.; Graubard, B. I. (2001). "Long-term recreational physical activity and breast cancer in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey I epidemiologic follow-up study". Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. 10 (7): 805–808. PMID 11440967.
  18. ^ "Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) Certification". National Recreation and Park Association. Retrieved 6 November 2010.

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