2012-01-20 / Columnists

Rockaway Walks Fitness Column

Leisure Time And Recreation Perception
Commentary By Steven McCartney, IPO, HSW, MS

Important leisure and recreation settings can reduce leading causes of death, disability, and social problems among youth and adults (Health and Fitness). Mentioned in the article on “Goal Setting Blueprint for the New Year,” we need to practice positive self talk skills to change behaviors established during childhood and early adolescence. These behaviors often carry over to adulthood. Examples: tobacco use, unhealthy physical activity, inadequate physical activity, drug use, sexual behaviors and behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence.

Today many schools strengthen their programs of physical fitness and many public recreation departments have expanded their leisure activities to include fitness classes, conditioning, jogging, and sports for all ages. My philosophy statement as a Physical Education teacher is focused in progressivism (John Dewey, father of progressive education). I believe education instruction is designed to produce problem solvers and independent thinkers who will contribute to the community at large. In addition, I also take a constructivist approach utilizing experience to reconstruct new knowledge. The “Activity Pyramid” for leisure and recreation (JB Nash) emphasis is that leisure activities can be non-productive or detrimental to self, or be acts of performance against society. This is the lowest level of leisure activity. Meanwhile, leisure has productive stages leading to creativity (highest level and self actualization). The Self Actualization is reflective of Maslow theory of five “Hierarchy of Needs.” Once a person achieves physiological, safety, social, ego then an individual is at a state of self actualization. Self actualization is the level everyone needs to maintain and is made up of achieving what one sets out to accomplish. Your accomplishments are forms of self actualization. My goal as a physical education teacher is to design programs that are appropriate to individual skill levels, help people meet individual goals as they relate to health and fitness (self actualize). Health and fitness have a relation to what people do with their leisure and recreation. For example, people need to participate in levels of activity that are not detrimental to self and are aligned with present fitness level. I raise the question, can unacceptable recreation and leisure activities (block of time associated with no obligations) be educated to engage in better recreation over time and provide Leisure Service Delivery Systems to help people stay and learn how to stay involved in recreation by having access to support services? Overall, I think the “Activity Pyramid” points out that various uses of leisure are clearly not always acceptable, but, for example, the recreation of overeating would be seen as excessive and this is a detriment to self. However, a person may receive support to engage in recreation activities and move to more acceptable behaviors of leisure over time. Understanding what is a social norm is important in setting one’s goals toward improving the quality of life.

Today people with limited resources and abilities can now engage in more creative activities. These activities can be found in Leisure Service Delivery Systems (LSDS). It seems our communities are aware of the need to provide programs that increase equity and improve the quality of life in communities that are in need of development because of lack of social economic status or dichotomy. However, I see more need to educate people on perceptions of leisure and recreation as it relates to public agencies, private, travel and tourism, and adventure. Different people’s perceptions will affect the creativity or self actualization towards leisure time and recreation. This varies by community, culture and individual beliefs. Best practices and strategies to help people engage in new recreation activities starts with positive self talk, imagery, and peer support (teamwork). Engaging in leisure time recreation is a great way to reduce stress from demanding daily routines. This article is dedicated to the participants of “Rockaway Walks” and the sponsors: The Wave newspaper, The NYC Office of Councilman James Sanders Jr., St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, Joseph Addabbo Health Center, NYC Parks Department, NYC Environmental Protection, Stop N Shop, Modell’s Sporting Goods, Office Max, and Healthy Lifestyle Changes, Inc.. For questions and concerns contact stevenmccartney@walkprograms.com.

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