Reading Time: 2 minutes

I can’t stand the term passive recreation area.  Common “passive recreation” pursuits are wildlife observation, walking, biking, snowshoeing, and canoeing, and a “passive recreation area” is typically defined as undeveloped space or an environmentally sensitive area.  I probably just dropped a whole lot of knowledge on you there.  Before I started working in the parks and recreation field, I didn’t know there was a difference between “active” and “passive recreation,” so I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t either.  I didn’t know recreational pursuits were categorized this way.  And they shouldn’t be.

Let’s look more at what some common “passive” recreation pursuits are:

  • Walking and jogging
  • Hiking
  • Canoeing
  • Snow shoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Nature walks
  • Bicycling
  • Cross country skiing
  • Kite flying

All those seem pretty “active” to me.  So why diminish it as a “passive” pursuit?

In today’s increasingly sedinatary world, we want people to be active.  We need people to be active.  Promoting these activities as active pursuits and legitamate ways to accumulate the necessary and recommended amount of physical activity per day, may help people to get more active and use these passive recreation areas more often.

Because of the nature of these passive recreation areas, many of them are wooded and bucolic.  People see pictures of these places on the internet and wish they can be immersed in them.  Little do they realize, many of these places are right in their backyard.

Why should you get out and be active in a passive recreation area?

1. Spending time in nature is good for the mind.

Humans need to spend time outdoors.  In today’s fast paced society, spending time outside helps us focus and take a break from hectic work schedules and refresh and renew our brains by taking a “cognitive break.”  Stress reduction and mood improvement are two other key benefits of spending time outside.

2. Spending time outside is good for the body.

Exposure to forests and nature boosts our immune system.  Studies have shown that people who spend as little as 15 minutes per day outside “have fewer diseases, are less likely to get cancer, have a lower risk of hear attack and stroke, and have better bone density.”  Even better is spending physically active time — including participating in passive recreation activities, such as walking, hiking, or canoeing — for cardiovascular, muscular strength and endurance, and bone density benefits.

3. You can play.

Play is important.  Play is fun.  Take part in some play activity outside by climbing a tree, balancing on a log, hopping from rock to rock.   By playing, you can boost your creativity and problem solving skills (without even knowing it!)  Play, even play as simple as this, has many benefits for both children and adults.

Passive recreation areas look — and are — peaceful, calm, serene, and beautiful.  But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t use them to be active!

Featured Image: Otto’s Farm Park in Hillsborough, NJ by Brian VanDongen