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Leisure consists of freely selected humanistic pursuits and the associated feelings and experiences. In particular, it includes pastimes like sports, the arts, and shopping, as well as activities like walking, yoga, Tai Chi, swimming, dancing, and visiting friends. Numerous studies have demonstrated the beneficial connection between leisure time activities, people's health, and social connections. Most of the time, leisure has a good impact on people's spirits. Typically, pleasure, enjoyment, and happiness are the emotions gained from leisure activities. Such uplifting feelings not only make people's lives richer, but also help them lead fulfilling lives. Recreational activities are also therapeutic for negative situations like trauma and stress. Satisfaction is achieved from positive emotions, connections, spirituality identities, and harmony. With increased satisfaction, people’s quality of life is improved as well. In this essay, there is a demonstration that health and leisure symbiotic concerns for a healthy society.
Mental wellness is a significant indicator of the health of a nation. The recovery of people suffering from mental illness through leisure is documented. Leisure and recreation activities enhance stress management and reduction of depression, thereby enabling people to control their mood. Specifically, leisure provides the working population with an opportunity to balance of their lives and control the way they spend their time. Studies exploring the relationship between leisure and perceived mental and physical health of adults with orthopedic disabilities residing in suburban areas reveal positive outcomes when leisure is included in the schedule of the subjects. In such studies, changes depression, mastery, and self-esteem and leisure satisfaction are determined. The most recent analyses of such studies have indicated that an increase in leisure translates to a healthier and increasingly productive aging. Besides the health benefits it has for the elderly, taking part in leisure activities gives children and adolescents a chance to model their stress management habit. Therefore, it is evident that leisure is a strength-based and cost-effective care approach to recovery.
It is unreasonable to ignore mental health in workplaces. Performance and effectiveness at work depend on the worker’s mental health and well-being. One of the greatest causes of office absence is stress, depression and anxiety. Stress is a medical condition that is hard to diagnose. Failure to address sources of stress can treaty to long-term debilitating health issues and length workplace absences. A research conducted by Strathclyde University revealed that mental health issues among employees cost the Scottish employers 26 billion dollars annually (Watson, 2011 p.15). Social activities such as support groups and cafes provide positive emotions and act as counter-depressants that facilitate recovery and transformation in ways that biomedical ways cannot. Other activities with similar effects include watching television, reading and talking on the phone. Links about people’s physical and mental health with risks to diseases such as cardiovascular disease have been established as well. Therefore, physical activity is a core component of healthy living
As a matter of fact, leisure that incorporates physical activities is a significant enhancer of health in the country. Physical activity leisure includes walking, cycling, engaging in household chores, playing and watching sports and planned exercise. There are studies that indicate that physical exercise facilitates employee health, minimize sickness and translate to increased worker productivity. Failure to engage in physical activity is associated with a range of health conditions such as coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer, type I diabetes, mental health problems, and obesity.
In most developed countries, active living, which incorporates physical functioning is documented as one of the best approaches to minimizing physical and mental illnesses, reducing mortality rates and improving the quality of life. Inactive living not only includes living a sedentary and inactive lifestyle but also living in loneliness and isolation and being disconnected from the community. One of the leisure activities that reveal such active living conceptualization are Tai Chi, which entails a physical activity that not only promotes physical health but also body-mind-spirit harmony. On the other hand, leisure activities such as art, music, and dance promote self-expression and identity. Such activities re spiritually refreshing and culturally meaningful.
Ill health at the workplace is counterproductive because it translates to reduced production, low staff turnover, absenteeism and early retirement. In most cases, pressure at workplaces minimizes physical activities among workers and increases chances of burnout. Ideally, workers that engage in leisure are more likely to be happier and healthier than those that do not. In the UK, back pain is the most common cause of sickness and affects approximately 16 million people annually. The issue costs enterprises approximately 5.7 billion pounds annually. On the other hand, stress that is related to work as well as anxiety and depression cost industries approximately 5 billion dollars. Studies reveal that physical activity reduces anxiety through moderate intensity exercise and enhance recovery from stressors. Apparently, staff turnover, early retirement, production loss, and absenteeism can be controlled by embracing regular physical exercise regime at the workplace.
Office absence can be prevented by establishing flexible working schedules and options. Employers are required to support staff that experience work-related stress having a culture that promotes awareness about mental health, inclusive environment that encourages employee participation in decision-making, integrating mental health and well-being alongside working procedures and policies, holding regular meetings regularly to establish worker stress and depression and introducing performance management processes and return to work interviews.
Outdoor recreation helps to promote physical and mental wellbeing. People that participate in skiing, hiking, walking maintain lower body fat and have lower blood pressure and levels of cholesterol. On the other hand, frequent practice sessions promotes endurance and physical strength. The frequent overall physical activity improves the quality of sleep, body flexibility and ability to act quicker. Reduction in muscle pain and increase in endurance is enhanced by leisure that entails physical activity. Additionally, healthy eating behaviors are encouraged with improved physical exercise Balance and posture through dance agility and balance. Other studies indicate that people that are more active in outdoor activities make less frequent visits to physicians, have lower BMI, and systolic blood pressures. For instance, Physical Activity Task Force (2003) reported that employees that are physically active take 27% fewer days of sick leave than those that are less physically active. Therefore, outdoor recreation provides an excellent opportunity to increase exercise.
Chang, Wray & Lin (2015:516) conducted a research to establish how leisure activities influence social relationships. Their study revealed that psychological and physical health is positively correlated with leisure activities. Adults with healthy social relationships are more likely to engage in physical leisure activities and reap the health benefits as opposed to those with unhealthy ones. They established that social networks act as a vehicle to maintain their health. Among all the leisure activities, physical activity had the greatest positive impact in promoting healthy lifestyles. In conclusion, they established that physical leisure activities were the most important for improving the health of adults when psychological and emotional needs have been satisfied with the social relationships. Mental leisure activities correlated with the model as well.
Improvement of Quality of Life
A person’s quality of life is improved through self-esteem derived from leisure activities. People become more satisfied with life when they engage in physical activities during leisure time. Such satisfaction has significant implications for people’s mental health and in turn their physical health. The balance of life is achieved when there is flexibility to schedule such that a significant proportion is spent on their family while the rest is allocated to work. As time is allotted appropriately, people’s satisfaction with overall lives increases and vice versa.
The implication that leisure has with people’s health explain why it is necessary to have rehabilitation programs in a country. Ordinarily, the primary beneficiaries of the programs include psychiatric patients, addicts that are recovering as well as children. The health benefits derived from rehabilitation programs include faster healing from medical conditions, betterment of cognitive function, and effective stress management. For example, Home and Community Care Act 1985 recommended support for healthy aging through therapeutic recreation and other leisure-based services especially in residential aged care facilities in Australia (Robertson & Long, 2008 p.245). The overall quality of life and average lifespan of the population can, therefore, be enhanced by leisure.
Other researchers also indicate that leisure enhances immune systems of people. The boosted immunity reduces incidences of heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and some types of cancer. Therefore, a country that seeks to limit such ailments must embrace leisure.
Moreover, some leisure activities that incorporate minimal physical exercises help to improve memory of individuals. Such activities include those that challenge the mind. Studies indicate that mental abilities and problem-solving skills improve with increased engagement in such less physical leisure activities. Such hobbies include word searches, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, brain games and card games. On the other hand, hobbies such as shopping, knitting, scrapbooking, board games and card games create social opportunities that in turn help to improve self-esteem.
When people age, physical and cognitive functions narrow down alongside social networks. A variety of literature indicates that the social relationships have a positive correlation with health statuses across people’s lifespan. Some researches indicate that spending time in hobbies can help to delay aging signs and while the positive feelings that are associated with leisure can enhance the body fight some illnesses.
During leisure time, people have an opportunity to share their experiences with others. It is from such socialization process that they get encouragements which boost their moods. Nonetheless, the resultant friendships and feeling of youthfulness promote psychological well-being. More so, elderly people that have a strong attachment with particular activities tend to have a strong desire to maintain their involvement in the activities and their social-emotional connections with other people with similar interests. Apparently, sharing real life experiences and developing a social and emotional network for one another leads to a decline in the overall level of tension, and elevates and stabilize moods, thereby reducing stress-related diseases.
Leisure activities create an opportunity to create and foster psychosocial support systems. For instance, positive social interactions during sport leisure activities leads to intimate relationships because it avails opportunities for sharing interests and experiences and fostering support for one another. Additionally, when family members allow the people to participate in leisure, the strength of the family bonds increases as well. Trust and affection also increase when family members give people permission to participate in leisure activities. Moreover, involvement in leisure is an enhancer of expansion of social networks and increases positive social interactions.
In essence identifying factors that are modifiable in establishing social relationships is crucial for healthy aging. To ensure participation in leisure activities, it is crucial to improve personal abilities and transport systems for the elderly and increase their leisure programs, facilities and health statuses (Norwood, Eberth, Farrar, Anable, and Ludbrook, 2014. p. 6). It is important to ensure that people are adequately equipped and motivated to go out and engage in leisure activities and take part in meaningful social roles. With that, the elderly can have an opportunity to develop positive relationships outside the formal mental health system.
In conclusion, health and leisure are symbiotic because health-related outcomes and the level of leisure activities have a positive correlation. The level of involvement in leisure activities among people in a country predicts the healthiness of the population. The various aspects of human functioning that leisure touches includes social, cultural and physical elements of life. Ordinarily, leisure not only acts as a precursor to active living but also a crucial pathway towards recovery from ailments, improvement of health, and enhancement of quality of life among people. Leisure promotes a positive psychological and mental health through enjoyment, positive feelings, and emotions. Besides physical fitness, leisure promotes a sense of accomplishment, self-confidence, power and control, relief from stress as well as people's social affiliation. Recreation activities provide people with an opportunity to undertake socially valued activities and develop positive relationships with others and pursue meaningful social roles. Therefore, the symbiotic relationship between health outcomes and leisure should be a concern for any country.
Chang, P.J., Wray, L. and Lin, Y., 2014. Social relationships, leisure activity, and health in older adults. Health Psychology, 33(6), p.516.
Norwood, P., Eberth, B., Farrar, S., Anable, J. and Ludbrook, A., 2014. Active travel intervention and physical activity behavior: An evaluation. Social Science & Medicine, 113, pp.50-58.
Robertson, T., & Long, T. (2008). Foundations of therapeutic recreation. Champaign, IL. Human Kinetics.Pp.228-251.
Watson, B. (2011).What’s it Worth now? : The Social and Economic costs of mental health problems in Scotland. Pp 1-30.
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