1 Volume 14 Issue 1

Discretionary Time Over Time: A Longitudinal View of Adults’ Lives and Leisure

Gaylene Carpenter, Jean Stockard

This study examined how middle-aged adults perceive discretionary or free time in their lives and the ways in which their life experiences and reflections on life structure are related to these perceptions. Research focused specifically on how changes in perceptions of available discretionary time were related to changing life experiences, assessments of life structure, and perceptions regarding leisure over a nine-year period. Data came from the longitudinal investigation of leisure, life perceptions, and life values: A Study of Leisure During Adulthood, ASOLDA. Descriptive statistics and mixed models were used to examine longitudinal quantitative data from eighty-four study participants. Results indicated that perceptions of time scarcity were most common for adults in years in which they had experienced more negative life events, especially when these life experiences prompted them to rethink and re-evaluate their lives. This pattern was most marked for those who had more positive perceptions of leisure. Data from four qualitative case studies further illustrate findings and future theoretical directions are discussed.

Getting Started with Time-Use Data

Jay Stewart

Time-use data have unique characteristics that make it different from other types of household survey data. Single-day time use surveys provide a detailed snapshot of a person’s activities on the diary day. But the large amount of day-to-day variation in the amount of time spent in various activities means that activities done on the diary day do not reflect the person’s long-run time use. Thus, time-use data is a sample of person-days, not a sample of people. This feature of time-use data has implications for its analysis.

Physical Activity and Perceived Health: Can Time Diary Measures of Momentary Well-Being Inform the Association?

Sandra L. Hofferth, Yoonjoo Lee, Sarah M. Flood, Deborah Carr

The association between physical activity and health is well documented, yet prior research has largely ignored the context of physical activity, including its specific type and the emotions experienced while engaged in that activity. This study used interview-based time diary data on 24,016 individuals who participated in the American Time Use Survey well-being modules in 2010, 2012, and 2013 to examine the associations between sedentary and moderately vigorous activities and self-reported health, and the extent to which momentary well-being modifies that association. Respondents who engaged in housework, leisure, or play with children reported better health whereas those who engaged in sedentary activity reported worse self-rated health. Respondents who spent more time in housework reported better health, but this was not the case for leisure or playing with children. Greater positive mood and fewer somatic symptoms while engaged in activity were associated with better self-rated health, with more consistent associations for symptoms than mood. Respondent reports of momentary well-being did not explain the link between activities and perceived or actual health.