Real-Time Associations Between Engaging in Leisure and Daily Health and Well-Being

Matthew J. Zawadzki, Joshua M. Smyth, Heather J. Costigan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Background: Engagement in leisure has a wide range of beneficial health effects. Yet, this evidence is derived from between-person methods that do not examine the momentary within-person processes theorized to explain leisure’s benefits. Purpose: This study examined momentary relationships between leisure and health and well-being in daily life. Methods: A community sample (n = 115) completed ecological momentary assessments six times a day for three consecutive days. At each measurement, participants indicated if they were engaging in leisure and reported on their mood, interest/boredom, and stress levels. Next, participants collected a saliva sample for cortisol analyses. Heart rate was assessed throughout the study. Results: Multilevel models revealed that participants had more positive and less negative mood, more interest, less stress, and lower heart rate when engaging in leisure than when not. Conclusions: Results suggest multiple mechanisms explaining leisure’s effectiveness, which can inform leisure-based interventions to improve health and well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)605-615
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 22 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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