June is National Migraine Awareness Month, which means now is a great time to think about things that help to avoid any personal triggers you may have for migraines. Many migraine sufferers in Oxford and elsewhere around the country keep diaries of their daily life, so as to learn about what those triggers might be, so they can be sidestepped. At the same time, you can involve yourself in some forms of therapeutic recreation that will make each day interesting, and which will also have the very desirable effect of keeping you fit. Senior home care professionals might have some ideas on which forms of therapeutic exercise you might be capable of, and together you can plan for a number of these activities to continue your active and engaged lifestyle.
What is therapeutic recreation?
If you haven’t encountered the term before, therapeutic recreation is an approach that involves participants in activities that improve mood and help them move better after being involved in an accident, having surgery, or recovering from an illness. These activities are generally designed around things that the patient enjoys doing already, and at the same time, they contribute to better mental health, better physical well-being, and a more stable emotional state. The primary goal of therapeutic recreation is to help an individual socialize in their immediate setting and to reduce the occurrence of depression or anxiety. It accomplishes the twin goals of relieving boredom and improving fitness levels as an attending circumstance.
Types of therapeutic recreation
While many forms of therapeutic recreation do actually involve games or low-level competition, the concept is not just about playing games. Another aim of this approach is to help a senior retain their independence by maintaining good health and mental alertness. The main qualifier that should be considered when planning any kind of therapeutic recreation, is that it should be an activity that the participants want to do anyway. If it’s something that doesn’t appeal to them for some reason, you’ll probably find that participation is only lukewarm at best. The more engaged a participant is, the more they’ll get out of the process. Here are some possibilities for events you might stage:
- group exercise classes
- dancing classes and events
- participation in appropriate sporting events
- community outings, such as a visit to a mall or a town park
- cooking classes, where everyone has their own assignment
- creating artwork through drawing, painting, chalk, or other media
Benefits of recreational therapy
Studies have been conducted in the area of recreational therapy, and it has been found that there really are some considerable benefits that accrue to participants. One study conducted in 2018 found that after six months of being involved in a recreational therapy program, participants experienced all the following benefits:
- reduced incidence of obesity or being overweight
- lower level of anxiety or stress
- elevated level of cardiovascular fitness
- noticeable improvement in bone health
- much improved self-image
A study conducted in the same year using exclusively discharged military personnel also found some very positive benefits from a program of recreational therapy. A lower level of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was the most obvious improvement, but there were others discovered as well. Stress, anxiety, and depression were all much lower in the service personnel who participated in the therapy program, as compared to discharged military personnel who did not participate in the program. Six months after the start of the program, it was found that all the positive gains had been fully retained in the program participants, meaning that results are at least long-lasting. Discovering that long-term results could be achieved for suffering military people provides a very revealing look at potential treatment options.
Who can benefit from recreational therapy?
According to the American Therapeutic Recreation Association, practically anyone and everyone can gain something positive from being involved in a therapeutic recreation program. This includes younger children, teenagers, adults, seniors, and anyone who might have a temporary or permanent disability. Just participating will tend to immediately relieve the boredom of everyday life, providing you with a chance to socialize with others, and to exercise mental and physical capabilities. Given that activities are always tailored to the fitness levels of the participants, no one should be excluded on the basis of physical capabilities.
Recreational therapists have been trained to help their charges overcome various physical and psychological impairments through repetitive actions and incremental progress toward specific goals. Professional therapists have a good understanding of the specific actions that are most useful during rehabilitation, and whatever works for an individual is likely to be incorporated into the program. Programs like these do not create world-class athletes – but they aren’t meant to. They are simply used to help someone avoid becoming withdrawn and bored with life, to participate in activities with others and socialize, and to maintain mobility by exercising the body regularly.