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8 Recreational Activities That Can Improve Your Health

8 Recreational Activities That Can Improve Your Health

People who partake in sports seriously and regularly are a bit of an enigma to me; I am just not that kind of person. I prefer the more everyday fun activities that are technically exercise but not in the serious, how-much-can-you-bench sense. Not that I don’t have tremendous respect for people who do those kinds of sports. If you’re the same as me though, Melissa Breyer of Mother Nature Network has some more recreational forms of exercise that can improve our physical and mental health:
Running and weightlifting may result in chiseled calves and bulging biceps, but social dancing and ping pong aren’t without their own benefits. While fitness magazines may promote the sexy sheen of a sweaty workout, sports that require less exertion offer some truly salubrious rewards. The following activities may require concentration, coordination, and practice, but these low-impact alternatives to more grueling sports also happen to be fun and social, adding even more to their charms.

1. Social dancing

Why go to the gym when you can Foxtrot, swing and waltz the night away? The benefits of cutting the rug include stress-reduction, cardiovascular health and a positive social environment.

But that’s not all. According to the Stanford University Dance Division, a study was conducted to see if any physical or cognitive recreational activities influenced mental acuity. What they found was that of all cognitive and physical activities examined — from tennis and swimming to reading and crossword puzzles — frequent dancing scored the highest with a whopping 76 percent risk reduction for dementia. As it turns out, dancing integrates several brain functions at once – kinesthetic, rational, musical and emotional — which combine to work wonders for neural connectivity.

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2. Bowling

“The Dude” in the film “The Big Lebowski” may have been a pot-smoking layabout, but his penchant for bowling actually defies his slacker demeanor. Not only does bowling burn some 240 calories per hour, but it strengthens and tones upper-body muscles, improves heart and respiratory fitness, and increases endurance while maintaining bone density.

According to Bowling World Newspaper, the average bowler swings a bowling ball a full 360 degrees (200 degree back and 160 degree down). In a three-game series, an average bowler with a 16-pound ball swings a cumulative 864 pounds in a full circle (54 shots multiplied by 16 pounds per shot). And those well-focused steps to deliver the ball? With an average of 60 feet per turn, a bowler walks 6/10 of a mile in a three-game series.

3. Walking

The remarkable powers of such a mundane — yet wonderful — activity as putting one foot in front of the other are detailed in 8 astonishing benefits of walking. To summarize, studies have proven a connection to each of the following in association with walking: a lower risk of developing dementia; a lower risk of suffering a stoke; a higher likelihood of surviving breast cancer; significant improvements in fatigue, depression and mental capacity for people suffering from fibromyalgia; decreased use of medication; significant risk reduction for developing type 2 diabetes; and greater sexual desire and satisfaction. (Be right back, going for a walk.)

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4. Fencing

It doesn’t get any more debonair than fencing; just think of Hollywood’s golden age of soave swashbucklers (and those tight swashbuckling pants) if you have any doubts. But beyond dashing good looks and smooth moves, fencing has some wonderfully surprising health benefits. Aside from its physical benefits, researchers in one study looked at fencing to see if it is effective in counteracting the cognitive deterioration that comes with aging. They found that “players must make quick decisions while engaged in the sport, and there’s a great deal of emphasis placed on visual attention and flexibility. The sport trains a number of cognitive functions, including planning, cognitive flexibility, initiating appropriate actions and holding back inappropriate actions.” They concluded that indeed, fencing is linked to less age-related cognitive decline.

5. Golf

On average, while playing a nine-hole golf course, golfers who walk and carry their bag burn 721 calories; golfers using a pull cart use 718 calories, golfers walking with a caddie expend 613 calories and even golfers using a golf cart burn 411 calories. Along with the social component, fresh air and sunlight, golf also offers longevity. A study conducted in Sweden found the death rate for golfers is 40 percent lower than for other people of the same demographic; resulting in an extra five years tacked on to the life expectancy.

6. Volleyball

Volleyball may be one of the more vigorous activities on this list, but given that it often occurs in bathing suits and on the beach, it gets a special spot in the “quite enjoyable” sports category.

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There are a unique variety of physical movements like jumping, squatting, diving and pivoting. It improves eye-hand coordination, and helps improve flexibility to the limbs as well as the hands and feet. Volleyball requires mental focus, provides social benefits, builds muscle and can burn up to 585 calories in 45 minutes. And for older adults who play chair volleyball, a 2007 study reported in the Activities, Adaptation and Aging Journal found that players benefited significantly from the positive effects that it had on their social health.

7. Roller-skating

Whether you lean towards Gene Kelly’s elegant roller-skating dance moves or to the tough dames of roller derby, gliding about on wheels appeals to a wide array of tastes. Roller-skating offers a broad workout for many of the body’s muscles, as well as providing great stretching and cardiovascular benefit. An hour of skating burns nearly 500 calories for the average 150-pound person.

And if you like running but your knees don’t agree, roller skating may be the perfect alternative; a study by the University of Massachusetts found that roller-skating causes 50 percent less impact on your joints than running.

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8. Ping pong

Although you basically stand in the same spot, ping pong provides a great cardiovascular workout and improves reflexes and core tone; it improves joint mobility of both upper and lower extremities and helps to increase energy over time. And because it depends on eye-hand coordination and rapid thinking, it is highly stimulating to brain activity.

“In ping pong, we have enhanced motor functions, enhanced strategy functions and enhanced long-term memory functions,” Dr. Wendy Suzuki, professor of neuroscience and psychology at New York University, told ABC News. According to Suzuki, the tabletop sport works parts of the brain that are responsible for movement, fine motor skills and strategy. Just imagine getting smarter by swatting a ball around that weighs less than a 10th of an ounce.

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, health, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. She is currently loving life in Brooklyn, NY.

The Surprising Health Benefits Of 8 Recreational Sports | Mother Nature Network

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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