How do YOU define ‘Recreation’?

October 17th, 2013 | By Marjie No Comments

bigstock-healthy-fit-man-rides-his-moun-27173366When you look for a definition, you usually go to the dictionary. So we did exactly that when we asked ourselves the question, “How does Athens MOVE define ‘recreation’?”

The dictionary defines recreation as:

“Activity done for enjoyment when one is not working.”
Synonyms: pleasure, leisure, relaxation, fun, enjoyment,
entertainment, amusement (at the very bottom of this list
were the words ‘play’ and ‘sport’)
Antonyms: work

Wow. The elements of fitness and health are the proverbial ‘gravy’ to the ‘main dish’ of being active and having fun when we are recreating! And the opposite of recreation is work. Even more interesting!

What we found in the dictionary, while not really surprising, made us wonder what our readers thought recreation means, and how they view recreation as part of their family life. So we took to the streets, so to speak, and asked a few of our Athens MOVE readers – young and not-so-young – what they think of when they hear the word ‘recreation.’ At the recent ACC Leisure Fit Family Fun Fest here in Athens, the MOVE staff had the opportunity to ask some of the children and adults who visited our booth these questions:

  • How do you define recreation?
  • Why is recreation important to you?
  • What kind of recreation activities are you and your
  • family involved in?
  • Why do you spend time/money/energy on recreating
  • with your family?
  • Is it based on the type of activity, where you do it, who
  • you do it with or how serious you are about it?
  • Can a sport be a recreational activity?

While they answered, we snapped a few photos and even took some smartphone video so you could enjoy their responses via our Facebook page and website. After you’ve read this issue of MOVE, join us online to see these folks “in action.”

One of the girls we spoke to at the Fit Family Fun Fest, Krista, said she dances, takes dance classes, plays tennis, goes swimming, plays basketball, and takes gymnastics. Now THAT is a lot of recreation! She also says, “I’m in good shape. I eat healthy. I love apples.” Clearly, Krista enjoys moving and playing and staying healthy and active. What do you think? Is she recreating or is she playing sports? Is it important to differentiate between the two?

One father of some young children shared with us at the Fit Family Fun Fest that he plays street hockey at the YMCA and that his younger child plays soccer and is learning to play t-ball. This dad’s recreation revolves around the activities of his kids, and he is getting exercise and enjoyment from participating with his children. If we refer back to the definition of the word recreation, we see terms like pleasure, fun, entertainment … all of which certainly apply to this man’s experience!

A mother with children from toddler to pre-teen age shared with us that her own recreation activity was “running after the kids.” As we watched her manipulating a stroller, walking and even sprinting after a toddler, and then maneuvering her family through the people and booths at the Fest, we had to agree that she was getting quite a workout. Her kids chimed in that they enjoyed soccer and walking/running sports, too. What do you think? Does running after young children qualify as recreation? Is soccer a sport or recreation … or both?

Then we talked with a parent who said that “recreation is anything to do with activity.” Their kids like to swim, run, ride horses, play basketball … and they’re trying something new – a kids’ triathlon – sometime soon! With every activity they listed, we saw smiles and enthusiasm from the kids about what they do. That certainly seems to support the idea that they are recreating … having fun, relaxing, getting enjoyment and entertainment from all they’re doing.

Still another parent at the Fest described recreation as “fun,” including “team sports” and “just being active,” citing swimming, tennis, and lacrosse. Does it seem that sometimes we mix the idea of sport with recreation? Does it matter if, in the long run, we are having fun and staying fit?

Finally, a family at the Fest told us that recreation is “being active and having fun, being outdoors hiking, running, biking, and swimming.” They said that anything they do as a family … from walking the Greenway to sauntering around the neighborhood … gets them outdoors and enjoying each other’s company as well as some fresh air. They said it’s all recreation and it’s all fun for their family.

So, here’s how we decided to sum up the answers to these questions, based on what the children and parents at the ACC Leisure Fit Family Fun Fest shared with us (and remember to catch their photos and videos on our Facebook page and website):

  • How do you define recreation? It is defined by every person and family in a way that works for them, but overall it’s anything that helps you stay fit and enjoy yourself at the same time.
  • Why is recreation important to you? For families, it seems that recreation is a great way to spend time together doing things that keep you healthy as people and as a family.
  • What kind of recreation activities are you and your family involved in? You name it and Athens families are involved in it, from swimming to horseback riding, lacrosse to hiking!
  • Why do you spend time/money/energy on recreating with your family? Whatever is fun and healthy and allows families to spend time together is worthwhile!.
  • Is it based on the type of activity, where you do it, who you do it with or how serious you are about it? It certainly seems to us that recreation is not defined by what, where, or how we are active. The overall theme is fitness and fun.
  • Can a sport be a recreational activity? Considering the responses we heard at the Fest, absolutely!
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