Why Recreational Activity is Crucial to Your Mental Health

People hiking outdoors

Why Recreational Activity is Crucial to Your Mental Health

It has been scientifically proven that people who actively participate in recreational activity are better adjusted. There are tremendous benefits not only physically but mentally as well.

Recreational activities ease the everyday stresses of life and have been shown to reduce anxiety and depression. It doesn’t matter if the activity you are participating in is physical or mental, alone or with a group. Giving yourself something to look forward to can work wonders for your mind and body.

Physical Activity

Being physically active has a positive effect on your overall health and can also play a huge role in the fight against mental illness. Older adults and those living in residential homes have been shown to feel less depressed when engaged in physical activity, whether it is a daily walk or a bowling club.

Physical activity also reduces depression in new mothers as well as children and young adults. It improves self-esteem and cognitive function and has even been known to have the same benefits as medication in some cases.

Playing a sport 1-3 times a week reduces psychological stress by over 30%, and those engaging more than 3 times a week can decrease their stress by almost 50%.

Sport and active recreation also make us feel better about ourselves. It builds confidence and self-esteem. It is also a wonderful way to make new friendships and can have a positive impact on the lives of the children.

Group Activities

Participating in a group activity gives us a sense of value and belonging. Our behavior is often shaped by our interactions with our environment and relationships with others. The direct and indirect links to our mental health are extremely beneficial.

Direct Benefits of Group Activities

People who have the social support of others are less likely to develop a mental illness. The direct links between anti-social behavior and depression have been proven.

Loneliness in middle-age to older teens and adults decreases when one is involved in a recreational group activity. A study in Norway found that people who engaged in some sort of social participation with others lived longer and were better equipped to deal with the stresses of life.

Joining a community group or volunteering also has links to the reduction in violent crimes. Those involved in group activities are less likely to engage in criminal behavior, and it gives one a strong sense of community. 

Indirect Benefits of Group Activities

Being part of a social group increases one’s participation in physical activity. Those who have a sort of buddy system associate positive feelings about being physically active.

One of the main reasons people don’t participate in group settings is because they have an adherence to social situations. But those who have at least one other person they are comfortable with have been shown to be more receptive to joining a group.

And a buddy does not necessarily need to be of the humankind! Those who are comfortable with animals have shown decreased anxiety just from the simple act of walking a dog to stay physical. 

Another indirect benefit to recreational activity is its help in the fight against obesity. Those who are self-isolating and feel depressed are more likely to eat and gain weight. So participation in a social group encourages people to move their bodies and stay engaged in physical activity programs. 

Especially in children, a decrease in physical activity has been proven to be indicative of being overweight, and this number continues to rise. The evidence that physical activity is beneficial, especially in a group setting, is clear when it comes to preventing obesity and disease.

Recreation as a Form of Therapy

For those spending time in a psychiatric facility, recreational activity is often used as a form of therapy. When used in a treatment setting, the benefits are endless.

Places across the country have been using recreational therapy as a way to help individuals recover from mental health struggles. Arts and crafts, theater, dance, fitness sports, and more have all had a positive impact on people.

Benefits of Engaging in Recreational Activity Therapy

A Different Way of Understanding Things

Those who are struggling with mental illness often do not comprehend why they are suffering. When you are given a different way of understanding your condition, it is extremely helpful in your recovery. 

Positive Relationships

Many folks who suffer from mental illness find that their relationships with others also suffer as a result. Relationships with family members, spouses, and work peers can be negatively affected when someone is ill.

But those who are included in an activity can learn to trust others and communicate effectively, which will play an important part in all of their relationships. 

Better Self-Esteem

Poor self-esteem can be crippling to anyone, especially those who are suffering from a mental illness. It has adverse effects on all aspects of our lives.

However, having a recreational activity as a form of therapy can be incredibly useful in helping folks gain back their confidence and realize they are more than worthy.

Anxiety and Stress Will Decrease

It goes without saying that stress and anxiety are especially hard for those with psychiatric illnesses. This can also play a huge part in the management of everyday life. Recreational, therapeutic activity can greatly reduce anxiety and depression. 


A recreational activity can be something you do weekly with a group in a certain setting. Or it can be a daily walk with your dog or even volunteering for your community. The benefits of seeing different surroundings and engaging with others will serve you for the rest of your life. 

ViewPoint Center Can Help

ViewPoint Center is a specialty hospital for teens who struggle with depression and other mental health issues. Located near Salt Lake City, Utah, ViewPoint Center is a comprehensive therapeutic assessment facility that is licensed and provides 24-hour nursing. Viewpoint offers comprehensive assessments. Post evaluation, treatment plans are established to meet the unique needs of each patient. By the end of the treatment period at ViewPoint, families have a clear understanding of the child’s diagnoses and are offered full guidance on how to move forward and seek proper treatment.