Recreation and Sport Studies

Studying, Experiencing and Facilitating Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport through Wellness and Physical Activity

Wellness & Mental Health


Wellness remains a term (concept) that means different things to different groups people.

The World Health Organization defines wellness as:

…an optimal state of health. It concerns a person’s individual health physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually and also their role in society and fulfilling expectations in their family, community, place of worship, workplace and environment.

RSS students are cognizant of the relationship between wellness and recreation and sport and well-positioned to critically analyze the value they bring to any holistic view of wellness.

In class we asked: where does this holistic view of wellness enter into current discussion of mental health?

The benefits of recreation and sport on mental health are numerous:

 anxiety and depression



confidence / self-esteem


better sleep

Studies have demonstrated that youth that participate in sport and physical activity translate into mentally healthier populations as they age.

Awareness of mental health issues has never been greater.

Stigmas associated with mental health are diminishing.

As RSS students about to graduate, where/how do you see the relationship between recreation and sport and mental health progressing?


UNB Faculty of Kinesiology: Bachelor of Recreation & Sports Studies, MBA in Sport & Recreation Management, and Master of Arts in Sport & Recreation Studies

3 thoughts on “Wellness & Mental Health

  1. I believe that wellness is associated with mental health. Although I do not believe that individuals who study RSS wellness are qualified to help treat someone with mental illness. The areas that RSS wellness students should focus on are those for improving mental health, and what could be considered in improving mental health. For example, we would be able to introduce exercises to calm your body and mind, breathing technique, suggesting “me time”, etc. However, I do not believe we are qualified in diagnosing depression and helping them through that process alone.


  2. Mental health and recreation having a definite strong association. In my opinion I see physical activity and fitness as a source of medicine for people. Being in RSS we are well educated on the notion of exercise helping with depression, anxiety, better sleep patterns, higher self-esteem, better moods, decreased stress, etc. It is extremely bothering to me that a doctor would recommend pharmaceutical medicines over exemplifying the importance of exercise for their clients. In the future I would hope that doctors and other health care professional encourage their patients to seek natural remedies like exercise. I am a strong believer in treating illnesses naturally instead of injecting your body with more strange chemicals and substances then we already get on a daily basis. Exercise is a natural, healthy way to help decrease and avoid not all, but a lot of mental health issues.


  3. There are two sides of the same coin when discussing sport/recreation and mental health/wellness. One the one hand, there are the obvious benefits, as listed above, that come with one’s involvement in recreation and sport. On the other side is the added anxiety and pressure to perform in elite and high performance sport. Case in point:

    I, personally, have a strong preference toward alternative and preventative medicine; active living indulges both of these forms. I think as a growing discipline, RSS, Sport Psychology, and other related fields will begin to influence not only policies, but social culture around taking responsibility for enhancing mental wellness but it may be slow to change. We vote for those who best represent our ideals. If history is any indication, the public still prefers leaders who promote and fund “after-the-fact” health care.

    No matter the evidence or for the better, people as a whole don’t like change and may be reluctant or defiant if they feel forced. Taking medication is also easier and less time consuming. There is a balance to be considered; all mental illness cannot be cured through recreation and sport, sometimes it can. Two process need to be in play at the same time- Mental illness needs to be taken as seriously as any physical illness/injury and preventative measures need to be given the space and funding to work alongside the health care system for the best chance of success.

    Perhaps, we should all take martial arts. I know it helped me with a few things growing up.


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