20 Recreational Activities to Enjoy Outside of Work

It’s all about striving for that famous work–life balance!

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Recreational Activities

Data suggests that, in recent years, work–life balance has been becoming increasingly more important to working professionals. So much so that, for many people, a healthy work-to-rest ratio is even more significant than the salary they earn.

But free time on its own isn’t the only component to increased wellbeing: we’ve got to pay attention to how we spend it, too.

Whether you’re looking for things to do in a small city like Iowa Falls or a metropolitan area like Chicago, we’ve got you covered: here are 20 recreational activities that can benefit you on both a personal and professional level!

1. Hiking

According to Harvard professor Heather Eliassen, time spent in nature can enhance both physical and mental wellbeing; it can improve our sleep, lower our blood pressure and reduce the risk of chronic illness.

If you don’t own a pair of hiking shoes yet, you might like to consider getting one!

2. Yoga

Much like time spent in green spaces, yoga can help release stress and strengthen your muscles and cardiovascular system. This not only benefits you outside the workplace, but while at work, too: it can help relieve those aches and pains that come from standing or sitting all day!

3. Karaoke

You might be wondering how singing can help your professional life. Well, for starters, karaoke often entails lots of laughing, which is excellent for upping your mood and reducing your stress and pain levels.

In addition, you’ll be spending time with friends or making new ones, broadening your social (or even professional) network.

4. Camping

This one can be great for working parents, as you’ll be getting your exercise in, enjoying new views and tiring out your little ones at the same time for a good night’s sleep!

Camping can be an excellent way to relax, get away from the air, noise and light pollution of the city, and spend quality time with those you love.

5. Escape room

University degrees are no longer as important to employers as they used to be. Indeed, hiring for attitude and soft skills is becoming increasingly more common!

The good news is that some soft skills can be developed outside of the workplace, while you’re out having fun. Escape rooms, for example, can enhance teamwork, problem solving and communication skills!

6. Geocaching

For those of you who’ve heard of geocaching before — yes, it’s still a thing! And if you haven’t, geocaching is an activity that requires you to use a GPS and internet access to uncover hidden caches, many of which contain small prizes or trinkets.

Joining this global treasure-hunting community can be a fun way to get out of the house more, walk more, and stimulate your mind.

7. Gardening

If you’re looking for more low-key activities than hiking and karaoke, you may like to consider adding gardening to your hobbies. It relieves stress and boosts your mood just like the two aforementioned activities do, minus the exertion of the first and potential embarrassment of the second!

8. Climbing

Climbing is one of those activities that benefits you both physically and mentally. Indeed, the sport can push you to your limits in terms of your physical grit and problem-solving ability, decreasing your stress levels at the end of a long day at the office.

9. Aqua aerobics

If you live close to the coast or hold no personal grudge against your local swimming pool, you might like to give water aerobics a go. Like land aerobics, water aerobics are a form of cardiac training; due to the water resistance, however, they’re also considered a form of strength training.

10. Cycling

If your job entails long hours of inactivity day in and day out, a good way to add more exercise into your routine is by taking up cycling.

Despite being a gentler form of exercise than, say, running or kickboxing, cycling can still strengthen your cardiovascular system and boost your mood.

11. Sightseeing

When was the last time you explored a new area or wandered around your hometown? Booking a guided tour (or even doing a self-guided one) can enrich your knowledge, encourage you to spend time outside the house, and activate that childlike wonder that comes with going on an adventure.

12. Drum circle

Did you know that drumming is sometimes used in therapy? That’s how beneficial meditative rhythms and movements are considered to be.

If you’re prone to experiencing stress and anxiety (and, honestly, who isn’t these days?), consider joining a drumming circle in your area: it can do a world of good.

13. Canoeing

Whereas kayaks are designed to be speedier, canoes are open-deck, spacious vessels that have single-bladed paddles, allowing rowers to glide past scenic landscapes and enjoy them more leisurely.

If it’s good company and stunning views you’re after, consider giving this activity a go!

14. Bird watching

One for the animal lovers! Bird watching not only encourages you to walk more and broaden your knowledge of local species, but it also helps you practice mindfulness — in other words, being present.

This, in turn, allows you to feel calmer overall and can boost your focus and concentration.

15. Foraging

As the name suggests, foraging is the practice of finding and gathering fruits, plants and mushrooms. It can be a great way to learn about the flora in your area, try out new flavors, make friends and spend time outdoors!

16. Dancing

Have you ever looked at a dancer and wished you could command your body as well as they do? Then perhaps you’ll want to take this as a sign to enroll in a dance class!

Besides being good for your heart and lungs, dancing can increase flexibility and boost your mood; a true antidote to 9-to-5-induced ailments.

17. Board games

If you’re looking for fun ways to unwind that don’t require you to leave the house, board games like chess, Scrabble or Dungeons and Dragons (although the latter is technically a roleplaying game) can help you relax and sharpen up some vital soft skills. These include your creativity and critical thinking skills!

18. Model building

Model building can be ideal for anyone who isn’t a fan of the great outdoors. It’s an activity that develops patience, problem solving and focus, and can be done alongside people of all ages, giving you a way to bond with your kids, spouse or housemates.

19. Museum visits

Trips to local museums and galleries can be fun, stimulating and relaxing… Not to mention that they can make you better at general knowledge games and trivia nights, adding another activity to your list of go-to pastimes.

20. Book club

Ah, reading: that magical pastime that can stimulate the imagination, expose you to different ideas and information, help you relax, and add new, handy entries to your vocabulary.

If you’re an editor or writer by profession, reading more books can improve your craft. Having said that, however, boosting one’s written communication can benefit just about anyone, regardless of industry!

Final thoughts

When talking about recreational activities outside of work, different things may come to mind: from thrill-inducing sports like rock climbing to grounding activities like gardening. No matter what you decide, however, one thing is certain: how you spend your time outside of work matters, both for your productivity in the workplace and your wellbeing more generally.

Bearing in mind that such pastimes can nurture social connections, decrease stress and build new skills, we hope that you’ll find opportunities (or, rather, create them!) to add more hobbies into your life.

What other recreational activities would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments section below!