Recreation and Healthy Communities

Man and children walking on a trailAbout Recreation

The National Framework for Recreation in Canada (2015) defines recreation as :
 
“ the experience that results from freely chosen participation in physical, social, intellectual, creative and spiritual pursuits that enhance individual and community well being”
Recreation is the positive actions and choices we make to recreate, to restore and refresh the body, mind and spirit.  
 
Recreation is unique in its ability to build capacity –  the personal, social, economic, and environmental benefits of recreation are the essence of a healthy community and individual well-being.  Recreation creates opportunities for people to be active, offering diverse and enjoyable ways to stay healthy.   
 
RECREATION is ESSENTIAL to Manitoban’s quality of life.
 
Recreation means lots of different things to Manitobans…
  • Talking a walk around the block or in the local park
  • Going to the library
  • Singing in a choir
  • Playing tennis
  • Being part of a sport team
  • Rollerblading on community trails
  • Taking an art or knitting class
  • Taking a zumba class
  • Going camping
  • Playing golf
  • Reading a book
  • Playing on the playground with your children
  • Volunteering at the local senior centre
 
All of these activities are recreation – positive activities in your leisure time that contribute to enjoyment of life.
The Recreation and Regional Service Branch works with provincial, regional and community organizations that are dedicated to providing quality recreation opportunities for Manitobans. 

 

The Benefits of Recreation

Community Benefits

Recreation can help make communities a more vital, cohesive place – a place that can solve its own problems, achieve its own dreams and build its own culture.  Made to be shared, recreation often unites people and equips them to build community. 
Recreation:
  • Unites communities and neighbourhoods -  adding to identity and pride
  • Develops opportunities for volunteerism
  • Promotes ethnic and cultural harmony
  • Engages community organizations in positive and creative contributions to their community.
  • Boosts sustainable economic development by attracting residents, businesses, and tourist seeking quality of live

Social Benefits

Recreation changes strangers into neighbours, bringing people together in settings where friendships and abilities can grow in a positive environment.  In a time when computers, cars and other labour saving devices have weakened or replaced human contact, recreation may improve health just as much by building social supports as by enhancing physical health.
Recreation:
  • Combats isolation and loneliness
  • Strengthens families
  • Encourages learning
  • Develop social skills

Physical Benefits

Regular, moderate physical activity when coupled with healthy eating offers a positive solution to obesity and ill health.  Recreation is one of the best medicines money can buy. 
Recreation provides diverse opportunities and choices for individuals to participate in that:
  • Combats chronic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, asthma and osteoporosis
  • Helps manage blood pressure, cholesterol levels
  • Increases life expectancy
  • Improves cardiovascular and respiratory functions
  • Increases muscular strength and endurance
  • Significantly reduces rates of heart disease, stroke and certain cancers

Psychological Benefits

We seek not merely to survive and live a long life but to live life to its fullest.  Recreation that fits personal lifestyles and interests provides confidence from meeting goals and achieving success. 
Recreation:
  • Promotes self-esteem, the single most significant variable in emotional and mental health
  • Invites people to help themselves and make choices that enhance a sense of control
  • Reduces stress
  • Promotes a positive lifestyle

Economic Benefits

  • Physical and mental health achieved through recreation and  a balanced, meaningful lifestyle reduces expensive health care costs.
  • Employees who adhere to a fitness program are more productive, absent less often and less likely to have an accident.
  • A physically active and fit senior citizen is able to remain in the community longer, caring for him/herself. Investment in "active living" for seniors is wise.
  • Parks and recreation services motivate business relocation and expansion in the community.
  • Meaningful leisure services reduce the high cost of vandalism and criminal activity.
  • Recreation and parks services are often the catalyst for tourism, a growing sector of our economy.
  • Investments in environmental protection through the provision of parks and open spaces pay for themselves.

Environmental Benefits

  • Protects parks and open spaces as investments that boost health potential for generations
  • Encourages sustainable community design that encourages active living through active transportation
 
For more information on the benefits of recreation visit the Alberta Recreation and Parks Association, who host the National Benefits Hub. For more information about the National Framework for Recreation in Canada visit the Framework Implementation Hub.
 
Click below for more information about Recreation and Regional Services