How do you spend most of your free time?
About a year ago, researchers in the Netherlands were interested in:
- How wealthy people spend their free time (aren’t we all) and if the ways they spend their time is related to their well-being.
- The autonomy wealthy people have over their time at work and whether that autonomy led to greater satisfaction.
Turns out, rich people kindasorta spend their time the same ways the rest of the general population does, but when it comes to “down time” the wealthy tend to engage in more active leisure activities while average-income folks tend to lean toward passive leisure activities.
- Active Leisure: Active leisure activities involve using physical or mental energy, often overlap with recreational activities, and usually happen outside your home and with other people (like volunteering, hobbies, and exercise).
- Passive Leisure: Passive leisure activities involve using little or no physical or mental energy and are usually done alone (think vegging out in front of the television until bedtime).
Also turns out, wealthy people tend to have greater work autonomy than the general population has and have more independence when it comes to managing their work hours.
(You’ve probably guessed that, yes, these active leisure activities and this greater control in managing their working hours both lead to greater life satisfaction and overall happiness.)
So what can we average-income folks take away from this?
Well, depending on your job, you may or (most likely) may not have that much control over how you spend your work hours. I mean, if you’re an administrative assistant or a nurse or a dog groomer or a teacher, the bulk of your work day is set in stone. Sure, there’s some wiggle room in how you do what you have to do, but overall you’re not that in control of how your work hours play out.
However, people of all walks of life have a lot more wiggle room with how they spend their leisure time. Yes, some leisure activities require a few extra dollars in the bank (hitting the links at a private country club, for example, or, I don’t know, yacht racing), but you absolutely don’t have to be wealthy to engage in more active leisure activities than passive leisure activities.
You have a lot of choices, too. Generally, active leisure is divided into three categories: social, cognitive, and physical. Let’s dive in!
1. Social Leisure
The primary focus of social leisure is socializing with family and friends. So, you might:
- Get a few parents together and organize a day trip to a local museum. Great for the adults and the kids!
- Attend a concert with friends. Sometimes tickets (and travel) can get expensive, so look around for local shows or even free concert events. For example, my city has an outdoor summer concert series each year from May until September (with the exception of this year’s coronavirus nightmare, of course). Attending is free (though you might want to bring a few dollars for the vendors!).
- Look for volunteering opportunities. Many animal shelters regularly seek volunteers for dog walking. Some nursing home accept volunteers to spend time reading to or playing games with residents.
2. Cognitive Leisure
With cognitive leisure, the focus is on mentally stimulating activities.
- Have a friend teach you chess. Or, if you know how to play, volunteer to teach someone else chess.
- Start journaling. Work on poems, or short story ideas, or simply unload your day on the pages before bed.
- Learn a new language.
Fun Fact: Some
3. Physical Leisure
Physical leisure activities involve exercise and sport.
- Download the free Couch to 5K (C25K) app and get moving.
- Join a community soccer or softball league.
- Take a yoga class. Some yoga studios can get a little pricey, but some have the occasional donation-based class. Also, you could opt for just one class a week and spend the rest of the week practicing what you learned in that week’s class.
Alright YBYM readers! What social, cognitive, or physical active leisure activity are you going to take up this weekend? Or, if you’re already into something, share with us what it is and your favorite thing about it!
Photo: Viktor Hanacek
What are the health benefits of being social?
Humans are born into social groups and live their entire lives as a part of society, so the social element can’t easily be removed from the evolution of an individual. But how does social contact affect our health?
Share on Pinterest We are social beings, and interacting with people is in our nature. But it also brings us benefits on a mental and physical level.
As human beings, we dream, learn, grow, and work as part of society. The society that we’re born into and the societies that we navigate throughout our lives shape our personal identities.
And in fact, so keen are we to communicate with each other — even beyond geographical limitations — that we’ve developed a plethora of tools to help us achieve that, including pen and paper, telegraph, telephone, and the Internet.
When I asked my colleagues in the Medical News Today office what benefits — if any — they thought that they derived from social connection, most of them said that they found some measure of comfort in social interaction.
Some colleagues said that they enjoyed the shared experiences, whereas others explained that friends kept them motivated to do “some healthful activities from time to time.” Others said that being around friends helped them to “destress and put things into perspective.”
Even the most introverted among us crave social contact from time to time. But why is that, and does being social bring us any actual health benefits?
In this Spotlight, we investigate why humans thrive in society, and how social interaction impacts our mental and physical well-being.
It may be intuitive to say that being social has helped our species to not only survive but also thrive over millions of years. But why is that so?
A study from 2011, which was published in the journal Nature, argues that being social became a key strength for the primate ancestors of humans when they switched from foraging for food by night (so that they could use darkness as a shield) to carrying out their activities by day (which rendered them more vulnerable to a wider range of predators).
Another more recent study — also in the journal Nature — suggests that early hominids may have evolved a basic form of language because they needed more advanced communication to share ideas. This, they say, helped our ancestors to develop tools that allowed them to live better and evolve further.
Researchers have also suggested that humans are innately compassionate beings, and that our compassion and empathy have served us well — since the capacity to care and share is highly valued by individuals looking for a mate.
After all, in order for a species to survive, its members have to not only procreate, but also be able to shield their offspring from harm and shield peers from injury, so that they can derive strength from collaboration in the face of adversity.
Psychologist Susan Pinker states that direct person-to-person contact triggers parts of our nervous system that release a “cocktail” of neurotransmitters tasked with regulating our response to stress and anxiety.
In other words, when we communicate with people face-to-face, it could help to make us more resilient to stress factors in the long run.
“ Face-to-face contact releases a whole cascade of neurotransmitters and, like a vaccine, they protect you now, in the present, and well into the future, so simply […] shaking hands, giving somebody a high-five is enough to release oxytocin, which increases your level of trust, and it lowers your cortisol levels, so it lowers your stress.”
She adds that, as a result of social interaction, “dopamine is [also] generated, which gives us a little high and it kills pain, it’s like a naturally produced morphine.”
This idea is corroborated by the findings of a study covered by MNT last year, which concluded that the touch of a romantic partner can actually help to relieve physical pain.
Another study from last year showed that those undergoing chemotherapy for cancer tend to fare better if they have access to social support and interaction, suggesting that just by being around family, friends, or peers going through similar experiences can strengthen us both mentally and physically.
Research has shown that by interacting with others, we actually train our brains. Social motivation and social contact can help to improve memory formation and recall and protects the brain from neurodegenerative diseases.
Prof. Matthew Lieberman — from the University of California, Los Angeles — specializes in the mechanics of what he calls our “social brain,” which is the neural activity related to social interaction, and the brain benefits that are afforded by it.
He has seen, for instance, that “if you learn in order to teach someone else, then you learn better than if you learn in order to take a test.”
This goes against the prominent beliefs in modern educational systems, in which learning on one’s own, for the sake of accumulating knowledge and skills, is typically preferred.
Instead, however, Prof. Lieberman notes that “when you’re socially motivated to learn, the social brain can do the learning and it can do it better than the analytical network that you typically activate when you try to memorize.”
A study published last year also found that maintaining close friendships later in life could help to prevent mental decline.
The research — led by scientists at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, IL — found that “SuperAgers,” defined as people aged 80 and above but who have the mental agility of much younger people, appear to have one thing in common: close friends.
“While both SuperAgers and [their peers with average cognitive performance] endorsed high levels of psychological well-being,” explain the authors, “SuperAgers endorsed greater levels of positive social relationships than their cognitively average-for-age peers.”
Several recent studies have also linked social connection with physical health benefits, and better habits with a more healthful lifestyle. Researchers at Maastricht University Medical Centre in the Netherlands saw that socially active individuals have a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes.
In contrast, individuals who did not participate in social activities, such as going out with friends or joining a club, had a 60 percent higher risk of developing a condition called “prediabetes,” which generally predates diabetes.
It might be that just being around people who encourage us to keep healthful habits or achieve challenging lifestyle goals could help us to remain mindful of our eating, exercise, and other lifestyle-related habits.
A recent study has also found that people who exercised in a group rather than on their own had decreased stress levels and had better mental and physical well-being at the end of a 12-week fitness program.
Their peers who went for solo fitness sessions, or who exercised with only one partner, did not experience the same improvements.
“The communal benefits of coming together with friends and colleagues, and doing something difficult, while encouraging one another, pays dividends beyond exercising alone,” notes the study’s lead author.
Finally, enjoying close social ties — with friends, partners, or family members — can make us happy and improve our overall life satisfaction in the long run.
Studies have shown that those who enjoy close friendships over their teenage years aren’t just happy as adolescents they also have a lower rate of depression or anxiety later in life.
Similar trends have been observed in the case of older adults. Research published in 2016 revealed that seniors who “liv[e] a socially active life and prioritiz[e] social goals [have] higher late-life satisfaction.”
Interestingly, researchers who have studied the inhabitants of so-called Blue Zones around the world — places with a high number of SuperAgers who live to ripe old age while maintaining good health and cognitive function — have noted that while other elements related to diet and lifestyle varied widely, they all appeared to be dedicated to being highly socially active.
Dr. Archelle Georgiou, who studied SuperAgers on the isolated island of Ikaria in Greece, saw that they were constantly surrounded by family, neighbors, and other members of their community, and that they all actively supported each other.
Ikarians, Dr. Georgiou found out, got together almost every evening to destress and shed the worry load of the day.
Similarly, the authors of Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, who interviewed the supercentenarians of the village Ogimi — in the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa — saw that being socially connected was key in these people’s lives.
“ It is customary in Okinawa to form close bonds within local communities. A moai is an informal group of people with common interests who look out for one another. For many, serving the community becomes part of their ikigai [life purpose].”
The authors explain that members of a moai “maintain emotional and financial stability,” as all the other members of their group help them out if they’re in trouble or going through rough times.
Granted, being socially active is not necessarily something that all of us can do all the time. We just need a little space sometimes, and that’s O.K. enjoying our own company helps us to get to know ourselves better and develop some of our inner strengths.
However, at least occasionally, socializing with people — whether they’re our close friends or new acquaintances — can allow us to get out of our own heads a little and gain fresh insights about the world.
Being happier, learning better, and living longer are all advantages that should motivate even the most dedicated of loners to get out there and mingle. Now close your browser and give that old friend of yours a call.
Sleep and mental health
Sleep and mental health are closely connected. Sleep deprivation affects your psychological state and mental health. And those with mental health problems are more likely to have insomnia or other sleep disorders.
Americans are notoriously sleep deprived, but those with psychiatric conditions are even more likely to be yawning or groggy during the day. Chronic sleep problems affect 50% to 80% of patients in a typical psychiatric practice, compared with 10% to 18% of adults in the general U.S. population. Sleep problems are particularly common in patients with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Traditionally, clinicians treating patients with psychiatric disorders have viewed insomnia and other sleep disorders as symptoms. But studies in both adults and children suggest that sleep problems may raise risk for, and even directly contribute to, the development of some psychiatric disorders. This research has clinical application, because treating a sleep disorder may also help alleviate symptoms of a co-occurring mental health problem.
The brain basis of a mutual relationship between sleep and mental health is not yet completely understood. But neuroimaging and neurochemistry studies suggest that a good night's sleep helps foster both mental and emotional resilience, while chronic sleep deprivation sets the stage for negative thinking and emotional vulnerability.
- Sleep problems are more likely to affect patients with psychiatric disorders than people in the general population.
- Sleep problems may increase risk for developing particular mental illnesses, as well as result from such disorders.
- Treating the sleep disorder may help alleviate symptoms of the mental health problem.
How sleep affects mental health
Every 90 minutes, a normal sleeper cycles between two major categories of sleep — although the length of time spent in one or the other changes as sleep progresses.
During "quiet" sleep, a person progresses through four stages of increasingly deep sleep. Body temperature drops, muscles relax, and heart rate and breathing slow. The deepest stage of quiet sleep produces physiological changes that help boost immune system functioning.
The other sleep category, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, is the period when people dream. Body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing increase to levels measured when people are awake. Studies report that REM sleep enhances learning and memory, and contributes to emotional health — in complex ways.
Although scientists are still trying to tease apart all the mechanisms, they've discovered that sleep disruption — which affects levels of neurotransmitters and stress hormones, among other things — wreaks havoc in the brain, impairing thinking and emotional regulation. In this way, insomnia may amplify the effects of psychiatric disorders, and vice versa.
Psychological effects of sleep deprivation
More than 70 types of sleep disorders exist. The most common problems are insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep), obstructive sleep apnea (disordered breathing that causes multiple awakenings), various movement syndromes (unpleasant sensations that prompt night fidgeting), and narcolepsy (extreme sleepiness or falling asleep suddenly during the day).
Type of sleep disorder, prevalence, and impact vary by psychiatric diagnosis. But the overlap between sleep disorders and various psychiatric problems is so great that researchers have long suspected both types of problems may have common biological roots.
Depression. Studies using different methods and populations estimate that 65% to 90% of adult patients with major depression, and about 90% of children with this disorder, experience some kind of sleep problem. Most patients with depression have insomnia, but about one in five suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.
Insomnia and other sleep problems also increase the risk of developing depression. A longitudinal study of about 1,000 adults ages 21 to 30 enrolled in a Michigan health maintenance organization found that, compared with normal sleepers, those who reported a history of insomnia during an interview in 1989 were four times as likely to develop major depression by the time of a second interview three years later. And two longitudinal studies in young people — one involving 300 pairs of young twins, and another including 1,014 teenagers — found that sleep problems developed before major depression did.
Insomnia and other sleep problems affect outcomes for patients with depression. Studies report that depressed patients who continue to experience insomnia are less likely to respond to treatment than those without sleep problems. Even patients whose mood improves with antidepressant therapy are more at risk for a relapse of depression later on. Depressed patients who experience insomnia or other sleep disturbances are more likely to think about suicide and die by suicide than depressed patients who are able to sleep normally.
Bipolar disorder. Studies in different populations report that 69% to 99% of patients experience insomnia or report less need for sleep during a manic episode of bipolar disorder. In bipolar depression, however, studies report that 23% to 78% of patients sleep excessively (hypersomnia), while others may experience insomnia or restless sleep.
Longitudinal studies suggest that insomnia and other sleep problems worsen before an episode of mania or bipolar depression, and lack of sleep can trigger mania. Sleep problems also adversely affect mood and contribute to relapse.
Anxiety disorders. Sleep problems affect more than 50% of adult patients with generalized anxiety disorder, are common in those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and may occur in panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobias. They are also common in children and adolescents. One sleep laboratory study found that youngsters with an anxiety disorder took longer to fall asleep, and slept less deeply, when compared with a control group of healthy children.
Insomnia may also be a risk factor for developing an anxiety disorder, but not as much as it is for major depression. In the longitudinal study of teenagers mentioned earlier, for example, sleep problems preceded anxiety disorders 27% of the time, while they preceded depression 69% of the time.
But insomnia can worsen the symptoms of anxiety disorders or prevent recovery. Sleep disruptions in PTSD, for example, may contribute to a retention of negative emotional memories and prevent patients from benefiting from fear-extinguishing therapies.
ADHD. Various sleep problems affect 25% to 50% of children with ADHD. Typical problems include difficulty falling asleep, shorter sleep duration, and restless slumber. The symptoms of ADHD and sleeping difficulties overlap so much it may be difficult to tease them apart. Sleep-disordered breathing affects up to 25% of children with ADHD, and restless legs syndrome or periodic limb movement disorder, which also disrupt sleep, combined affect up to 36%. And children with these sleeping disorders may become hyperactive, inattentive, and emotionally unstable — even when they do not meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD.
Sleep and mental health lifestyle changes
In some respects, the treatment recommended for the most common sleep problem, insomnia, is the same for all patients, regardless of whether they also suffer from psychiatric disorders. The fundamentals are a combination of lifestyle changes, behavioral strategies, psychotherapy, and drugs if necessary.
Lifestyle changes. Most people know that caffeine contributes to sleeplessness, but so can alcohol and nicotine. Alcohol initially depresses the nervous system, which helps some people fall asleep, but the effects wear off in a few hours and people wake up. Nicotine is a stimulant, which speeds heart rate and thinking. Giving up these substances is best, but avoiding them before bedtime is another option.
Physical activity. Regular aerobic activity helps people fall asleep faster, spend more time in deep sleep, and awaken less often during the night.
Sleep hygiene. Many experts believe that people learn insomnia, and can learn how to sleep better. Good "sleep hygiene" is the term often used to include tips like maintaining a regular sleep-and-wake schedule, using the bedroom only for sleeping or sex, and keeping the bedroom dark and free of distractions like the computer or television. Some experts also recommend sleep retraining: staying awake longer in order to ensure sleep is more restful.
Relaxation techniques. Meditation, guided imagery, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation (alternately tensing and releasing muscles) can counter anxiety and racing thoughts.
Cognitive behavioral therapy. Because people with insomnia tend to become preoccupied with not falling asleep, cognitive behavioral techniques help them to change negative expectations and try to build more confidence that they can have a good night's sleep. These techniques can also help to change the "blame game" of attributing every personal problem during the day on lack of sleep.
Image: © monkeybusinessimages | GettyImages
If Americans are not physically active on the job or off, what are we doing? Just look around you. Work usually means sitting behind a desk, in front of a computer, or behind a steering wheel. Free time involves more sitting, often at the kitchen table or in front of a TV. The most obvious consequence is the steady growth of America's waistline more than half of all men are overweight or obese. Type 2 diabetes is another result, and the number of cases is increasing steadily.
When researchers at Harvard studied 37,918 men between the ages of 40 and 75, they found a strong link between the amount of time a man spent watching TV and his risk of diabetes. None of the men had diabetes when the study began in 1986, but over the next 10 years the men who watched the most TV were nearly three times more likely to develop the disease than those who spent the least time in front of the tube. TV watching has also been linked to obesity, another diabetes risk factor — but even when the scientists took obesity into account, they found that heavy-duty TV watching increased the risk of diabetes by nearly two and a half times. And another Harvard study found that men who watch the most TV have higher levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol and lower levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol than those who watch less. Along with diabetes and obesity, it's an invitation to cardiovascular disease — and tuning into medical shows like ER won't lessen the risk at all.
The average American man spends more than 4 hours a day watching TV. If he devoted just 30 minutes of that free time to activities and exercise, he'd be much healthier.
Physical activity was not necessary to increase well-being, the study authors found, even though plenty of research suggests that exercise is great for mental health, particularly when it’s done outside. For many people in the study, simply being in green space seemed to be enough to spark a change, says study co-author Hon Yuen, director of research in the occupational therapy department at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
“Some people may go to the park and just enjoy nature. It’s not that they have to be rigorous in terms of exercise,” Yuen says. “You relax and reduce stress, and then you feel more happy.”
The medical community is increasingly viewing green space as a place for their patients to reap physical and mental health benefits. Some physicians, like Dr. Robert Zarr, a pediatrician in Washington, D.C., are even writing prescriptions for it.
These “nature prescriptions” &mdash therapies that are redeemable only outdoors, in the fresh air of a local park &mdash advise patients to spend an hour each week playing tennis, for instance, or to explore all the soccer fields near their home. The scripts are recorded in his patients’ electronic health records.
“There’s a paradigm shift in the way we think about parks: not just as a place to recreate, but literally as a prescription, a place to improve your health,” says Zarr, who writes up to 10 park prescriptions per day. In 2017 he founded Park Rx America to make it easier for health professionals to write park prescriptions for people of all ages, particularly those with obesity, mental-health issues or chronic conditions like hypertension and Type 2 diabetes.
By writing nature prescriptions &mdash alongside pharmaceutical prescriptions, when necessary &mdash physicians are encouraging their patients to get outdoors and take advantage of what many view to be free medicine. The specificity that comes with framing these recommendations as prescriptions, Zarr says, motivates his patients to actually do them. “It’s something to look forward to and to try to feel successful about,” he says.
In 2018, NHS Shetland, a government-run hospital system in Scotland, began allowing doctors at 10 medical practices to write nature prescriptions that promote outdoor activities as a routine part of patient care. And in recent years, organizations with the goal of getting people outside for their health have proliferated in the U.S. The National Park Service’s Healthy Parks Healthy People program promotes parks as a “powerful health prevention strategy” locally and nationally. Walk With a Doc, which sponsors free physician-led community walks, is now in 47 states, and Park Rx, which has studied and tracked park-prescription programs since 2013, says these are now in at least 33 states and Washington, D.C. Even mental-health professionals are going green. A growing number of “ecotherapy” counselors conduct sessions outdoors to combine the benefits of therapy and nature.
Plus, these unusual prescriptions are the prettiest you’ll ever fill &mdash a fact that Betty Sun, program manager at the Institute at the Golden Gate, which runs Park Rx, says encourages people to actually do them. “With social media and Instagram, when you see your friends going out to beautiful places, you want to go too,” Sun says. “It’s about making a positive choice in your life, rather than a punitive choice &mdash like ‘You’re sick, take a pill.’ It just seems so much more supportive.”
How physical activity helps mental health
There are various ways that physical activity helps mental health, including:
Studies show that physical activity has a positive impact on our mood. One study asked people to rate their mood after a period of exercise (i.e. walking or gardening) and after inactivity (i.e. reading a book). Researchers found that people felt more awake, calmer and more content after physical activity.
For more information about the study, please see the Mental Health Foundation website.
Being regularly active is shown to have a beneficial impact on alleviating stress. It can help manage stressful lifestyles and can help us make better decisions when under pressure.
Research on working adults shows that active people tend to have lower stress rates compared to those who are less active.
Physical activity has a big impact on our self-esteem – that’s how we feel about ourselves and our perceived self-worth.
This is a key indicator of mental wellbeing. People with improved self-esteem can cope better with stress and improves relationships with others.
Depression and anxiety
Exercise has been described as a “wonder drug” in preventing and managing mental health. Many GPs now prescribe physical activity for depression, either on its own or together with other treatments.
It’s effective at both preventing onset of depression and managing symptoms.
Benefits of Leisure for Disabled, Elderly & Mental Health
So we’ve established that Leisure helps you fight off stress and stay fit but what else? Well, leisure activities also have lots of benefits to mental health. Leisure activities can help people recover quicker from negative life events such as the loss of a loved one (Janke et al., 2008 Kleiber et al., 2002). Leisure can provide a distraction, a comfort and a sense of control when dealing with a variety of chronic health conditions (Nimrod and Hutchinson, 2010). Doing half an hour of something you love can act as a ‘breather’ from stressful life events. Positive emotions associated with leisure activities can disrupt negative thoughts and feelings (Folkman, 1997).
It’s generally agreed that most kinds of leisure can boost your mood but being outdoors is particularly effective for improving mood and boosting wellbeing (Ewert et al., 2003 Schwartz and Campagna 2008).
Physical activity itself can actually reduce symptoms of depression because of the ‘happy chemicals’ your body releases when you’re exercising (Aan het Rot et al., 2009).
Despite the positive benefits of leisure for people with depression there are some drawbacks. Many people with depression can struggle to enjoy even the most fantastic activities and some people also lack the motivation to get stuck in (Wasserman, 2006 Nydegger, 2008).
It’s worth remembering that just because something is fun, doesn’t mean it’s good for you! There are very few health benefits associated with a trip to the pub. The social aspect to a pint with your friends can also be gained through a shopping trip or a game of 5-a-side football!
There are numerous benefits to leisure activities and often the risks can be managed through careful planning. I hope this article has convinced you to take a bit of time and enjoy a bit of leisure.
If you’re feeling academic I’ve included my reference list below & if you’d like to read more of my work please visit my website.
If you would like to read more Limitless blogs you could try our feature on Disability Awareness Day.
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- Ball M, Corr S, Knight J, Lowis MJ (2007) An investigation into the leisure occupations of older adults. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 70(9), 393-400.
- Chang, P., Wray, L.Lin, Y. (2014) Social relationships, leisure activity, and health in older adults. Health Psychology. 33(6), 516-523.
- Cohen, S. (2004). Social relationships and health. American Psychologist, 59, 676 – 684
- Coleman, D. (1993). Leisure Based Social Support, Leisure Dispositions and Health. Journal of Leisure Research, 25(4), 350-361
- Coleman, D., & Iso-Ahola, S. E. (1993). Leisure and health: The role of social support and self-determination. Journal of Leisure Research, 25, 111–128.
- de Hartog, J., Boogaard, H., Nijland, H.Hoek, G. (2011) Do the Health Benefits of Cycling Outweigh the Risks?. Epidemiology. 22, S76-S77.
- Department of Health (2011) Start active, stay active: A report on physical activity from the four home countries' Chief Medical Officers. Department of Health, Physical Activity, Health Improvement and Protection.
- Folkman, S. (1997). Positive psychological states and coping with severe stress. Social Science and Medicine, 45, 1207-1221
- Hutchinson, S. L., & Nimrod, G. (2012). Leisure as a resource for successful aging by older adults with chronic health conditions. The International Journal of Aging & Human Development, 74, 41– 65.
- Janke, M. C., Nimrod, G., & Kleiber, D. A. (2008). Leisure activity and depressive symptoms of widowed and married women in later life. Journal of Leisure Research, 40, 250 –266
- Kleiber, D., Hutchinson, S., & Williamson, R. (2002). Leisure as a resource in transcending negative life events: Self-protection, self-restoration and personal transformation. Leisure Sciences, 24, 219-235
- Mathieson, S.Lin, C. (2014) Health benefits of Nordic walking a systematic review. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 48(21), 1577-1578.
- Murrock, C.Graor, C. (2016) Depression, Social Isolation, and the Lived Experience of Dancing in Disadvantaged Adults. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing. 30(1), 27-34.
- Neal, J., Sirgy, M. Uysal, M. (2004) Measuring the Effect of Tourism Services on Travelers? Quality of Life: Further Validation. Soc Indic Res. 69(3), 243-277.
- Nydegger, R. (2008). Understanding and treating depression. Westport, CT: Praeger
- Oja, P., Titze, S., Bauman, A., de Geus, B., Krenn, P., Reger-Nash, B.Kohlberger, T. (2011) Health benefits of cycling: a systematic review. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. 21(4), 496-509.
- Polatajko, H. Davis, J. Stewart, D. Cantin, N. Amoroso, B. Purdie, L. Zimmerman, D. (2007) Specifying the domain of concern: Occupation as core. In. Townsend, E. Polatajko, H. Enabling Occupation II: Advancing an occupational therapy vision for health, well-being, and justice through occupation. CAOT Publications ACE, Ottawa, pp. 17 - 31.
- Pressman, S., Matthews, K. A., Cohen, S., Martire, L. M., Scheier, M., Baum, A., & Schulz, R. (2009). Association of enjoyable leisure activities with psychological and physical well-being. Psychosomatic Medicine, 71, 725–732.
- Sirgy, M., Kruger, P., Lee, D. Yu, G. (2010) How Does a Travel Trip Affect Tourists' Life Satisfaction?. Journal of Travel Research. 50(3), 261-275.
- Thornton, E. (2004) Health benefits of Tai Chi exercise: improved balance and blood pressure in middle-aged women. Health Promotion International. 19(1), 33-38.
- Wasserman, D. (2006). Depression: The facts. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Among adolescents in Denmark, our results show that engaging in multiple leisure activity types at least weekly𠅊s compared to one single type of activity—is associated with increased odds of high mental well-being and reduced odds of being very bothered by mental health problems. Further, adolescents that engage in multiple leisure activity types are less likely to use substances in the first place, less likely to use substances to cope, and if they use substances, their consumption is less likely to be above average. Increasing opportunities for adolescents to engage in rewarding substance-free activities is suggested to be useful in mental health promotion and the prevention of excessive use of substances. Policy and practice efforts may promote and increase access to leisure activities among adolescents.
Other Professionals You May Encounter
Certified Peer Specialists
These specialists have lived experience with a mental health condition or substance use disorder. They are often trained, certified and prepared to assist with recovery by helping a person set goals and develop strengths. They provide support, mentoring and guidance.
Social workers (B.A. or B.S.) provide case management, inpatient discharge planning services, placement services and other services to support healthy living.
Pastoral counselors are clergy members with training in clinical pastoral education. They are trained to diagnose and provide counseling. Pastoral counselors can have equivalents to a doctorate in counseling.