Last updated
Surfing, a form of recreation Two surfers.jpg
Surfing, a form 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").

Prerequisites to leisure

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

Pieter Bruegel Children's Games (1560) Pieter Bruegel d. A. 041b.jpg
Pieter Bruegel Children's Games (1560)

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 in entertainment are work for one person and recreation for another. Over time, a 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]

Health and recreation

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 [10] and of cancer, most significantly in men that of colon and prostate, [11] and in women that of the breast; [12] however, not all malignancies are reduced as outdoor recreation has been linked to a higher risk of melanoma. [11] Extreme adventure recreation naturally carries its own hazards.

Forms and activities

Mennonite woman dressmaking (1942) Mennonite Women Dressmaking Pennsylvania 1942.jpg
Mennonite woman dressmaking (1942)

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. Some recreational activities – such as gambling, recreational drug use, or delinquent activities – may violate societal norms and laws. A list of typical activities could be almost endless


Bricolage and DIY are some of the terms describing the building, modifying, or repairing things without the direct aid of experts or professionals. Academic research has described DIY as behaviors where "individuals engage raw and semi-raw materials and parts to produce, transform, or reconstruct material possessions, including those drawn from the natural environment (e.g., landscaping)". [13] DIY behavior can be triggered by various motivations previously categorized as marketplace motivations (economic benefits, lack of product availability, lack of product quality, need for customization), and identity enhancement (craftsmanship, empowerment, community seeking, uniqueness). [14] They could involve crafts that requires particular skills and knowledge of skilled work. Typical interests enjoyed by the maker culture include engineering-oriented pursuits such as home improvement, electronics, robotics, 3-D printing, and the use of Computer Numeric Control tools, as well as more traditional activities such as metalworking, woodworking, and, mainly, its predecessor, traditional arts and crafts. The subculture stresses a cut-and-paste approach to standardized hobbyist technologies, and encourages cookbook re-use of designs published on websites and maker-oriented publications. [15] [16] There is a strong focus on using and learning practical skills and applying them to reference designs. [17] There is also growing work on equity and the maker culture.


Ancient Egyptian gaming board inscribed for Amenhotep III with separate sliding drawer, from 1390-1353 BC, made of glazed faience, dimensions: 5.5 x 7.7 x 21 cm, in the Brooklyn Museum (New York City) Gaming Board Inscribed for Amenhotep III with Separate Sliding Drawer, ca. 1390-1353 B.C.E.,49.56a-b.jpg
Ancient Egyptian gaming board inscribed for Amenhotep III with separate sliding drawer, from 1390–1353 BC, made of glazed faience, dimensions: 5.5 × 7.7 × 21 cm, in the Brooklyn Museum (New York City)

Any structured form of play could become a game. Games are played sometimes purely for recreation, sometimes for achievement or monetary rewards as well. They are played for recreation alone, in teams, or online; by amateurs. Professionals can play as part of their work for entertainment of the audience. The games could be Board games, Puzzles, computer or Video games.

Outdoor recreation

A park in New York City where people sunbathe and relax. Tompkins Square Park Central Knoll.jpg
A park in New York City where people sunbathe and relax.

Recreation engaged in out of doors, most commonly in natural settings. The activities themselves — such as fishing, hunting, backpacking, and horseback riding — characteristically dependent on the environment practiced in. While many of these activities can be classified as sports, they do not all demand that a participant be an athlete. Competition generally is less stressed than in individual or team sports organized into opposing squads in pursuit of a trophy or championship. When the activity involves exceptional excitement, physical challenge, or risk, it is sometimes referred to as "adventure recreation" or "adventure training", rather than an extreme sport.

Other traditional examples of outdoor recreational activities include hiking, camping, mountaineering, cycling, canoeing, caving, kayaking, rafting, rock climbing, running, sailing, skiing, sky diving and surfing. As new pursuits, often hybrids of prior ones, emerge, they gain their own identities, such as coasteering, canyoning, fastpacking, and plogging.

Performing arts


Contra dancers creating their own recreation at a ball in New Hampshire, United States (silent video)

Participatory dance whether it be a folk dance, a social dance, a group dance such as a line, circle, chain or square dance, or a partner dance such as is common in western Western ballroom dancing, is undertaken primarily for a common purpose, such as entertainment, social interaction or exercise, of participants rather than onlookers. The many forms of dance provide recreation for all age groups and cultures.

Music Creation

Music is composed and performed for many purposes, ranging from recreation, religious or ceremonial purposes, or for entertainment. When music was only available through sheet music scores, such as during the Classical and Romantic eras in Europe, music lovers would buy the sheet music of their favourite pieces and songs so that they could perform them at home on their instruments.

Visual arts

Woodworking, photography, moviemaking, jewelry making, software projects such as Photoshopping and home music or video production, making bracelets, artistic projects such as drawing, painting, Cosplay (design, creation, and wearing a costume based on an already existing creative property), creating models out of card stock or paper – called papercraft fall under the category visual arts. many of these are practised for recreation.


Drawing goes back at least 16,000 years to Paleolithic cave representations of animals such as those at Lascaux in France and Altamira in Spain. In ancient Egypt, ink drawings on papyrus, often depicting people, were used as models for painting or sculpture. Drawings on Greek vases, initially geometric, later developed to the human form with black-figure pottery during the 7th century BC. [18]

With paper becoming common in Europe by the 15th century, drawing was adopted by masters such as Sandro Botticelli, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci who sometimes treated drawing as an art in its own right rather than a preparatory stage for painting or sculpture. [19]


Writing may involve letters, journals and weblogs. In the US, about half of all adults read one or more books for pleasure each year. [20] About 5% read more than 50 books per year. [20] [20] Elocution is another way to use literature for recreation.


Depiction of aurochs, horses and deer in Lascaux Lascaux painting.jpg
Depiction of aurochs, horses and deer in Lascaux

Like drawing, painting has its documented origins in caves and on rock faces. The finest examples, believed by some to be 32,000 years old, are in the Chauvet and Lascaux caves in southern France. In shades of red, brown, yellow and black, the paintings on the walls and ceilings are of bison, cattle, horses and deer. Paintings of human figures can be found in the tombs of ancient Egypt. In the great temple of Ramses II, Nefertari, his queen, is depicted being led by Isis. [21] Greek and Roman art like the Hellenistic Fayum mummy portraits and Battle of Issus at Pompeii contributed to Byzantine art in the 4th century BC, which initiated a tradition in icon painting. Models of aeroplanes, boats, cars, tanks, artillery, and even figures of soldiers and superheroes are popular subjects to build, paint and display.


An amateur photographer practices photography as a hobby/passion and not for monetary profit. The quality of some amateur work may be highly specialized or eclectic in choice of subjects. Amateur photography is often pre-eminent in photographic subjects which have little prospect of commercial use or reward. Amateur photography grew during the late 19th century due to the popularization of the Hand-held camera. [22] Nowadays it has spread widely through social media and is carried out throughout different platforms and equipment, including the use of cell phone. Clear pictures can now be taken with a cell phone which is a key tool for making photography more accessible to everyone.

Organized recreation

University of Auckland Recreation Centre University of Auckland Recreation Centre.JPG
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. [23] Examples of each of these are the National Park Service, the YMCA, the Kiwanis, and Walt Disney World. Public space such as parks and beaches are essential venues for many recreational activities and Tourism has recognized that many visitors are specifically attracted by recreational offerings. [24] In particular, beach and waterfront promenades such as the beach area of Venice Beach in California, the Promenade de la Croisette in Cannes, the Promenade des Anglais in Nice or the lungomare of Barcola with Miramare Castle in Trieste are important recreational areas for the city population on the one hand and on the other also important tourist destinations with all advantages and disadvantages for the locals.

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. [25] Research has shown that practicing creative leisure activities is interrelated with the emotional creativity. [26]

Recreation center

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. [27] [28]

Recreation as a career

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) [29] that is considered a national standard for professional recreation specialist practices.


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

Related Research Articles

Hobby Regular activity that is done for enjoyment

A hobby is a regular activity done for enjoyment, typically during one's leisure time, not professionally and not for pay. Hobbies include collecting themed items and objects, engaging in creative and artistic pursuits, playing sports, or pursuing other amusements. Participation in hobbies encourages acquiring substantial skills and knowledge in that area. A list of hobbies changes with renewed interests and developing fashions, making it diverse and lengthy. Hobbies tend to follow trends in society, for example stamp collecting was popular during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as postal systems were the main means of communication, while video games are more popular nowadays following technological advances. The advancing production and technology of the nineteenth century provided workers with more availability in leisure time to engage in hobbies. Because of this, the efforts of people investing in hobbies has increased with time.

Leisure Time that is freely disposed by individuals

Leisure has often been defined as a quality of experience or as free time. Free time is time spent away from business, work, job hunting, domestic chores, and education, as well as necessary activities such as eating and sleeping. Situationist International proposes that leisure does not evolve from free time, and free-time is an illusory concept that is rarely fully "free"; economic and social forces appropriate free time from the individual and sell it back to them as the commodity known as "leisure". Certainly most people's leisure activities are not a completely free choice and may be constrained by social pressures, e.g. people may be coerced into spending time gardening by the need to keep up with the standard of neighbouring gardens or go to a party because of social pressures.

Dance/movement therapy (DMT) in USA/ Australia or dance movement psychotherapy (DMP) in the UK is the psychotherapeutic use of movement and dance to support intellectual, emotional, and motor functions of the body. As a modality of the creative arts therapies, DMT looks at the correlation between movement and emotion.

Art therapy type of therapeutic technique

Art therapy is a distinct discipline that incorporates creative methods of expression through visual art media. Art therapy, as a creative arts therapy profession, originated in the fields of art and psychotherapy and may vary in definition.

In Australia, Diversional Therapy “is a client centred practice [that] recognises that leisure and recreational experiences are the right of all individuals.” Diversional Therapists promote the involvement in leisure, recreation and play by reducing barriers to their client's participation and providing opportunities where the individual may choose to participate. Ideally these recreational activities promote self-esteem and personal fulfillment, through an emphasis on holistic care; providing physical, psychological, social, intellectual and spiritual/cultural support.

Everyday life Routine processes in humans daily and weekly cycle

Everyday life, daily life or routine life comprises the ways in which people typically act, think, and feel on a daily basis. Everyday life may be described as mundane, routine, natural, habitual, or normal.

Inclusive recreation

Inclusive recreation, also known as adaptive or accessible recreation, is a concept whereby people with disabilities are given the opportunity to participate in recreational activities. Through the use of activity modifications and assistive technology, athletes or participants in sports or other recreational pursuits are able to play alongside their non-disabled peers. The Boy Scouts of America, for example, has about 100,000 physically or mentally disabled members throughout the United States.

Leisure studies is a branch of the social sciences that focuses on understanding and analyzing leisure. Recreation and tourism are common topics of leisure research.

Nude recreation Leisure activity while naked

Nude recreation refers to recreational activities which some people engage in while nude. Historically, the ancient Olympics were nude events. There remain some societies in Africa, Oceania, and South America that continue to engage in everyday public activities —including sports— without clothes, while in most of the world nude activities take place in either private spaces or separate clothing optional areas in public spaces. Occasional events, such as nude bike rides, may occur in public areas where nudity is not otherwise allowed.

According to the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA), recreational therapy or therapeutic recreation (TR) is a systematic process that utilizes recreation (leisure) and other activities as interventions to address the assessed needs of individuals with illnesses and/or disabling conditions, as a means to psychological and physical health, recovery and well-being. Recreational therapy may also be simply referred to as recreation therapy, in short it is the utilization and enhancement of leisure.

Dance and health

Dance is a health-promoting physical activity which many people worldwide incorporate into their lifestyles today. This physical activity appeals to some who may not typically be active and therefore may be another alternative of exercise. Dance for health has become an important factor in the prevention, treatment and management in several health circumstances. It can benefit both physical and mental health and subsidizes social communication Dance is an art which is learned in and shared between many cultures. Types of dance can entail body movements, expression and collaboration. The correlation between dance and health has been subject of a number of research studies that show dance to be a largely healthy exercise. However, there are a number of health risks that require attention.

Play (activity) voluntary, intrinsically motivated recreation

Play is a range of intrinsically motivated activities done for recreational pleasure and enjoyment. Play is commonly associated with children and juvenile-level activities, but play occurs at any life stage, and among other higher-functioning animals as well, most notably mammals.

Outdoor recreation

Outdoor recreation or outdoor activity refers to recreation engaged in out of doors, most commonly in natural settings. The activities themselves — such as fishing, hunting, backpacking, and horseback riding — are characteristically dependent on the environment practiced in.

John Neulinger German psychologist

John Neulinger was a noted German-American psychologist and Professor Emeritus of psychology at City College of New York. Neulinger is best known for contributing a social psychological theory of leisure to the field of leisure studies. Neulinger's theory of leisure is defined by a psychological state of mind that requires two criteria for leisure: perceived freedom and intrinsic motivation. In Neulinger's theory, individuals can be said to be in a state of leisure if they simply perceive that they have the freedom to choose activities and are motivated by an activity for its own sake, not just for its consequences. Neulinger first popularized his ideas in the 1974 book, The Psychology of Leisure.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to culture:

The BYU College of Health and Human Performance began as the College of Recreation, Physical Education, Health and Athletics in 1955. This college drew the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department from the College of Education; the Intercollegiate Athletics and Intramural Sports department also from the College of Education; and incorporated the newly formed Scouting Department. The Health, P.E. and Recreation Department was split into four departments, Recreation, Health and Safety, Women's Physical Education and Dance, and Men's Physical Education and Pre-physical Therapy. In 1956 Intercollegiate Athletics and Intramural Sports were split into two programs. These programs were eventually moved outside of the academic structure of BYU to be non-college affiliated parts of the university.

Sport Forms of competitive activity, usually physical

Sport includes all forms of competitive physical activity or games which, through casual or organized participation, at least in part aim to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing enjoyment to participants, and in some cases, entertainment for spectators. Sports can bring positive results to one's physical health. Hundreds of sports exist, from those between single contestants, through to those with hundreds of simultaneous participants, either in teams or competing as individuals. In certain sports such as racing, many contestants may compete, simultaneously or consecutively, with one winner; in others, the contest is between two sides, each attempting to exceed the other. Some sports allow a "tie" or "draw", in which there is no single winner; others provide tie-breaking methods to ensure one winner and one loser. A number of contests may be arranged in a tournament producing a champion. Many sports leagues make an annual champion by arranging games in a regular sports season, followed in some cases by playoffs.

The arts Human expression, usually influenced by culture

The arts refers to the theory, human application and physical expression of creativity found in human cultures and societies through skills and imagination in order to produce objects, environments and experiences. Major constituents of the arts include visual arts, literary arts, performing arts, and culinary arts.

Nashs Pyramid

Nash's Pyramid is a framework for ranking leisure activities, developed by Jay B. Nash. Nash was an early leader in the leisure field. His thinking was influenced by the prevalence of 'Spectatoritis' in America which he defines as, "a blanket description to cover all kinds of passive amusement."


  1. 1 2 3 Thomas S. Yukic. Fundamentals of Recreation, 2nd edition. Harpers & Row, 1970, Library of Congress 70-88646. p. 1f.
  2. 1 2 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. 1 2 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. Smith, E. L.; Raab, D. M. (1986). "Osteoporosis and physical activity". Acta Medica Scandinavica. Supplementum. 711: 149–156. PMID   3535406.
  11. 1 2 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Wolf & McQuitty (2011). Understanding the Do-It-Yourself Consumer: DIY Motivation and Outcomes. Academy of Marketing Science Review
  14. Wolf & McQuitty (2011)
  15. Thomas MacMillan (April 30, 2012). "On State Street, "Maker" Movement Arrives". New Haven Independent.
  16. "Makers UPV: making locally, winning globally | Startup Europe". Archived from the original on 2016-08-21. Retrieved 2016-08-12.
  17. Martinez, Sylvia (2013). Invent To Learn. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge. pp. 32–35. ISBN   978-0-9891511-0-8.
  18. History of Drawing. From Dibujos para Pintar. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  19. "Drawing". . 2006. Archived from the original on 14 March 2009. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  20. 1 2 3 Pinsker, Joe (2019-09-19). "Why Some People Become Lifelong Readers". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2019-10-02.
  21. History of Painting. From History World. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  22. Peterson, C.A. (2011). "Home Portraiture". History of Photography. 35 (4): 374–87. doi:10.1080/03087298.2011.606727.
  23. Yucik TS, 1970, page 62f
  24. Queensland Government. "What is Recreation?". Archived from the original on April 1, 2009. Retrieved October 31, 2010.
  25. Rechner (March 11, 2010). "Letter to the Editor: Outdoor recreation stimulates the economy". The Washington Post . Retrieved November 2, 2010.
  26. Trnka, Radek; Zahradnik, Martin; Kuška, Martin (2016-07-02). "Emotional Creativity and Real-Life Involvement in Different Types of Creative Leisure Activities". Creativity Research Journal. 28 (3): 348–356. doi:10.1080/10400419.2016.1195653. ISSN   1040-0419.
  27. Recreation Centers, Clearwater, FL
  28. Recreation Centers, New York City Department of Parks & Recreation
  29. "Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) Certification". National Recreation and Park Association . Retrieved 6 November 2010.