In terms of recreation, the elderly and the people leading a sedentary lifestyle are often encouraged to do some sports. However, recreational activities and sports are not the same. There is a lot of overlap between the two, as many competitive sports can be used as recreational activities, albeit with a more relaxed pace.
What Is the Difference?
A sport is a physically demanding activity that requires an individual or a team to compete against others while pushing their body and their skills to the limit for the purposes of earning money or entertainment. Granted, we find that this definition is somewhat lacking, but you get the gist.
Recreation, on the other hand, refers to everything we do for pleasure. It is something that is not work but play, in a way. You can still play football, go mountain-climbing, or use parkour to get to your favorite coffee place, but if you are not doing it to entertain anyone or to make some money, but simply for the pleasure of it or because you can, that is recreation. It is an important part of personal development and mental and physical health.
Recreational Activities That Are Not Sports
This is a wide category, so we are going to have to break it down. For the sake of simplicity, we have opted to divide these recreational activities into two groups: physically demanding and relaxed.
This is a category to which all martial artists and amateur athletes belong.
Martial arts that are not combat sports but are legitimate skills where no scores are kept are used here either for self-defense or to keep your body in top physical condition. We’ve already talked about some of the benefits of martial arts for the elderly in another piece, which you can read here.
Hiking, jogging, riding a bike, playing Frisbee in the park, and walking your dog, for example, are all activities that do require some physical exertion. This is not the level of exertion you would find on an average sports field, but it is something that gives us pleasure and keeps us healthy.
Workout programs and different practices that are not about competitive results but rather your own well-being, like yoga, pilates, and tai-chi are also physically demanding recreational activities that have nothing to do with sports.
There are many recreational activities where you don’t have to move a finger, figuratively speaking.
Hobbies like reading, fishing, playing video games (despite the existence of eSports), chess, cards, and board games have more to do with taking care of your mind, rather than your body.
Meditation is a practice in many religions and personal philosophies where you tune out the world, which helps put things in perspective. Think of it as taking a deep breath when you are stressed, but doing it properly and not trying to fit an hour of relaxation into 20 seconds.
What Does This Mean
Sports are great for your health and can be used recreationally and not just competitively. However, doing sports is not the only form of recreation that is valid. Anything that gives you pleasure and is not self-destructive (this is important) can be used as recreation. Bonus points if you can make it benefit your body and/or mind. Don’t overdo it.