Recreation: The Leading Foundation to Healthy Youth Development
Shahid Firdous
Algonquin College
Adrienne Annan
November 20th, 2018
Recreation: The Leading Foundation to Healthy Development in Youth
According to the Government of Canada (2016), “Obesity rates among… youth in Canada have nearly tripled in the last 30 years.” While numerous factors can be attributed to this unsettling figure, the lifestyle of a teen in Canada is the primary culprit. Most Canadian youth are not meeting the daily physical activity requirement and are spending more time on sedentary activities such as playing video games or going on their smartphones instead (Statistics Canada, 2017). The adolescent obesity epidemic is only part of the butterfly effect of a much larger issue: the lack of recreation in the lives of youth across Canada. When teens are not attending school, working at a part-time job, or being heavily involved with their social lives, recreation should be implemented as part of their busy schedules due to the following benefits they will obtain if they do so: a healthier lifestyle, positive mental health development, and maturation of social skills. Recreation plays an essential role in healthy youth development. One of the reasons why recreation is important in the healthy development of teens is because it promotes a healthier lifestyle. As stated in a study published by the NHS (2017), which consisted of more than 130,000 individuals of different socioeconomic backgrounds from 17 countries, concluded that people who participated in any sort of regular physical activity such as doing household chores, being involved in sports, or walking enjoyed lowered risk of cardiovascular diseases by 20-30% compared to the rest of the populace when engaged in 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly. Not only does recreation reduce risk in cardiovascular diseases, but it also prolongs your lifespan. When involved in regular, moderate physical activity, your lifespan increases by several years (Azvolinsky, 2012). Even overweight and obese individuals can reap these benefits (Azvolinsky 2, 2012). For example, obese participants who engaged in 150 minutes of moderate activity weekly lived 2.7 to 3.4 years more than obese
individuals who were non-active; normal-weight individuals who engaged in the same workout regiment extended their lifespan by 4.7 years compared to non-active normal-weight individuals (Azvolinsky 3, 2012). The reduction in heart disease and the extension of your lifespan are some aspects of a healthier lifestyle that recreation embarks Canadian youth on.

Not only does recreation promote a healthier lifestyle in teens across Canada, but it also provides positive mental health development. In 2015, Canada had one of the highest teenage suicide rates in the world with an estimated rate of 10 per 100,000 teens (Zimmer, 2018). Furthermore, 14% of adolescents aged 15 to 24 reported having suicidal thoughts in their lifetime (Zimmer 2, 2018). A solution to depression according to several Canadian rural towns is the use of recreation (University of Waterloo, 2018). Women within several rural communities use curling clubs as a way to combat seasonal depression, specifically those in the Northwest communities where they often do not see the sun for 18 to 20 hours during the winter (University of Waterloo 2, 2018). Another mental health benefit that recreation provides is a higher self-esteem. According to a study done by Zekiye Basaran of Kocaeili University (2016) involving the placement of convicts in a 12-week recreation program, individuals who spent their free time in recreational activities, had a good support system, and positive life conditions had a higher self-esteem than those who did not. Following the success of his experiment with prisoners, Basaran recommended recreation to help teenagers who deal with social phobias for instance (Basaran, 2016). Recreation helps adolescents advocate positive mental health development as they can deal with depression and gain improved self-esteem.
At last, another reason why recreation is fundamental to the healthy development of youth within Canada because it helps advance social skills in adolescents and their communities.
One of the most common side effects that municipalities and cities notice when recreation is introduced is that there is a reduction in crime. This reduction in crime can be attributed to positive effects recreation has on individuals. When taking part in recreational activities, a report done by Özgen and Balci (2015) states that it brings relief from stress, increases self-esteem, promotes socialization, and the expenditure of positive energy within people. Furthermore, recreation helps individuals discover their talents which can motivate them to steer away from crime and serve as part of the process within rehabilitation for prisoners behind bars (Özgen et al.). With those combined effects, adolescents are not only deterred from negative behaviours, but also increases their quality of life significantly due to not partaking in harmful impulses that will affect them and their community. Consequently, stronger families and communities are created due to the sense of security that recreation brings upon a community’s youth and its inhabitants. Recreation serves as a motivator for adolescents to be deterred from negative behaviours and lead an overall reduction on crime within communities.
A repercussion that the Canadian government faces as a result of a lack of focus on recreation on the healthy development of adolescents is Canada is the obesity epidemic plagued on the youth. Not only does it plague the obese youth with an increase in the development of other diseases such as diabetes type-2 and cardio-related conditions, but it places a heavy burden on the health care system. Public Canada (2016) reports that the associated costs obesity and secondary diseases brought upon by obesity increased by $735 million from 2000 to 2008, bringing the cost from $3.9 to $4.6 billion. This is brought on by sedentary activities that Canadian youth focus on, such as playing video games and watching T.V. instead of participating in physical activity. Hence, teens are encouraged to participate in recreational
THE IMPORTANCE OF RECREATION IN HEALTHY YOUTH DEVELOPMENTactivities to obtain the following benefits: a sanitary lifestyle, positive mental health growth, and the development of social skills. Recreation is a key aspect to the healthy development of a teen,
Azvolinsky, A. (2012). Exercise boosts life expectancy, study finds. Live Science. Retrieved from
Basaran, Z. (2016). The effect of recreational activities on the self-esteem and loneliness level of the prisoners as an alternative education. Kocaeili University: Izmit, Turkey. Retrieved from
Ehsani, M., Dehvani, A., ; Heidary, A. (2012). The influence of sport and recreation upon crime reduction: A literature review. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences. (2). No. 6. Retrieved from of Canada. (2016). Childhood obesity. Retrieved from
NHS. (2017). Any type of physical exercise is good for the heart. Retrieved from
Özgen, C., ; Balci, V. (2015). Recreational activities in crime prevention and reduction. The Online Journal of Recreation and Sport. (4). Issue 1. University of Ankara: Ankara, Turkey. Retrieved from Canada. (2016). Obesity in Canada – Health and economic implications. Retrieved from
Statistics Canada. (2017). The daily: Physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and sleep in Canadian children and youth. Retrieved from of Waterloo. (2018). Curling helps fight seasonal depression for rural women. University of Waterloo: Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Retrieved from
Zimmer, E. (2018). Study finds mental health issues, depression prevalent among Canadian youth. Daily Hive. Retrieved from

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