The Health and Social
Benefits of Recreation

Community Services provide a number of benefits to our community, which help strengthen families, build healthy communities, improve the quality of life for Newport News residents, encourage the healthy development of children and help inspire community leaders.

Below are eight key marketing messages taken from the Benefits of Recreation Catalogue.

Recreation is Essential to Personal Health

  • Recreation helps people live longer
  • Recreation prolongs independent living for seniors – keeping seniors vital and involved in community life
  • Recreation and fitness significantly reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • Recreation and fitness combat osteoporosis
  • Recreation and fitness combat diabetes
  • Recreation and fitness help in preventing specific types of cancers – particularly in the colon, breast and lungs
  • Recreation and fitness help prevent and rehabilitate back problems
  • Recreation and arts/culture contribute to mental health
  • Recreation and arts/culture enhance overall health and well-being
  • Recreation is a proven therapeutic tool – helping to restore physical, mental and social capacities and abilities

Recreation is Key to Balanced Human Development

  • Recreation is essential to the development of our children and youth:
    We learn motor skills (physical) through play and sports
    We learn social skills through play and sports
    We learn creativity through play and arts/cultural activities
    We develop intellectual capacities and concepts through play – as well as many other life skills
  • Recreation provides the opportunity for adults to develop their full and holistic potential
  • Recreation and adult leisure learning provide exceptional opportunities

Recreation is Essential to Quality of Life

  • Recreation and arts/culture build self-esteem and positive self-image
  • Recreation and arts/culture enhance life satisfaction levels
  • Recreation and arts/culture enhance perceived quality of life – for individuals, families and communities
  • Recreation, sports and arts/culture nurtures growth, acquisition of life skills and independent living for those with a disability

Recreation Reduces Self-Destructive and Anti-Social Behavior

  • Recreation, sports and arts/culture reduce self-destructive behavior and negative activity in youth – an antidote to smoking, substance abuse, suicide and depression
  • Recreation and arts/culture can reduce crime
  • Recreation and arts/culture can reduce racism – building understanding between diverse cultures
  • Recreation reduces isolation, loneliness and alienation

Recreation Builds Strong Families and Healthy Communities

  • Families that play together, stay together
  • Recreation provides safe developmental opportunities for the latch-key child
  • Recreation, sports and arts/culture produce leaders who serve their communities in many ways
  • Recreation, sports and arts/culture build social skills and stimulate participation in community life
  • Recreation is often the catalyst that builds strong, self-sufficient communities (i.e. sport groups, arts guilds)
  • Arts/culture helps people understand their neighbors, their history and their environment
  • Recreation and arts/culture build pride in a community

Recreation Reduces Health Care, Social Service and Police/Justice Costs

  • Fitness and well-being reduce both the incidence and severity of illness and disability – lowering healthcare costs
  • Recreation supports families – reducing costs of social service intervention and foster care
  • Recreation reduces crime and social dysfunction – reducing police, justice and incarceration costs

Recreation and Parks are Significant Economic Generators in the Community

  • Recreation and fitness improve work performance – increase productivity, decrease absenteeism, decrease staff turnover and reduce “on the job” accidents
  • Recreation and arts/culture attract businesses to the community – prime economic development and relocation magnets
  • Recreation, sports and arts/culture draw tourism – the third largest and one of the fastest growing industries in the world
  • Recreation, fitness, sports and arts/culture are significant economic generators on their own – providing many jobs
  • Small investments in recreation, sports and arts/culture often yield large economic returns – money generated by events, capital development and providing ongoing services is spent several times in the community

Parks, Open Space and Natural Areas are Essential to Ecological Survival

  • Green space protects habitats, biodiversity and ecological integrity
  • Green spaces improve air quality – removing carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and other pollutants from the air
  • Outdoor recreation is one of the best approaches to environmental education – a key to long-term sustainability
  • Protecting land from development (keeping it as open space) mitigates against potential environmental disasters (flooding, slip zone, aquifer depletion)
  • Trail and pathway systems save energy and protect air quality by encouraging non-motorized transportation
  • Arts/culture is one of the best ways to express the spirituality of the land, thereby encouraging stewardship ethics