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Publication Detail
Frequency of leisure activity engagement and health functioning over a 4-year period: a population-based study amongst middle-aged adults
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Elsden E, Bu F, Fancourt D, Mak HW
  • Publisher:
    Springer Science and Business Media LLC
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    BMC Public Health
  • Volume:
  • Article number:
  • Status:
  • Print ISSN:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    Leisure activities, SF-36, 1970s British birth cohort, Health functioning, Frequency of engagement
  • Notes:
    This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Rationale: Leisure activities have wide-ranging benefits for physical and mental health. However, previous studies have often focused on “leisure” as a homogeneous group of activities. This study was therefore designed to take a prospective and comparative approach exploring different types of leisure activities, as well as investigating whether frequency of engagement is associated with strength of benefits. / Method: Data from the 1970 British Cohort Study Waves 9 (age 42) and 10 (age 46) were analysed (N = 5,639). Eight domains derived from the SF-36 health survey questionnaire were used to measure health functioning (general health, vitality, bodily pain, social functioning, physical functioning, mental health, role limitations due to emotional, and role limitations due to physical problems). Leisure activities included physical activity, culture engagement, arts participation, volunteering or community engagement, and literature activities. Both ordinary least squares and logistic regressions were applied. / Results: Physical activity was associated with greater levels of physical functioning, general health, and vitality at higher frequencies, while cultural engagement was associated with social functioning and physical functioning when engaged in several times a year. Arts participation and literature activities had a general negative association with health functioning. Engagements in volunteering/community groups showed varying associations with health functioning (both positive and negative) depending on the levels of engagements. / Conclusion: This research suggests that the types of leisure activities and levels of engagement can have differential associations with health amongst middle-aged adults. This may be helpful for public health initiatives and programmes such as social prescribing schemes when formulating programmes, especially regarding ‘dosage’ of engagement. Further, the overall benefits of high engagement frequency suggest that increasing leisure engagement could play an important role in supporting improving health and wellbeing at a population level.
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Behavioural Science and Health
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