Association of Enjoyable Leisure Activities With Psychological and Physical Well-Being

The current paper described the combined results across four studies that assess the associations between a measure of various types of enjoyable activities ) and psychological and physiological measures associated with well-being

Sarah D. Pressman; Karen A. Matthews; Sheldon Cohen; Lynn M. Martire; Michael Scheier; Andrew Baum; Richard Schulz


Scholarcy highlights

  • Considerable research has examined the health impact of damaging behaviors, such as smoking, physical inactivity, and medical noncompliance
  • Consistent with study hypotheses, individuals who engaged in more frequent enjoyable leisure activities had better psychological and physical functioning
  • The PEAT scores were not associated with cortisol slope perhaps because a flatter cortisol slope is found typically in chronically stressed or burned out populations, whereas Area under the curve varies with psychological function and mood
  • body mass index, waist circumference, and blood pressure are tied to increased risk of early mortality and morbidity
  • The frequent occurrence of enjoyable leisure activities may play some role in accounting for the morbidity and mortality associated with greater weight, fat distribution, and blood pressure
  • Inclusion of the PEAT in the regression equations resulted in the original associations being reduced up to 50% for the education variable and up to 35% for the income variable
  • Because the analyses are cross sectional, we cannot conclude that these activities cause these outcomes as it is possible that good health encourages engagement in leisure activities
  • Longitudinal studies testing these questions would prove invaluable as would research examining whether these enjoyable leisure activities predict better disease outcomes, or whether healthy individuals are able to engage in more leisure

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