Leisure engagement in older age is related to objective and subjective experiences of aging

TitleLeisure engagement in older age is related to objective and subjective experiences of aging
Publication TypeManuscript
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsBone, JK, Bu, F, Sonke, J, Fancourt, D

Leisure engagement has potential to slow decline in older age and limit increasing healthcare costs as the
number of older adults increases, but the potential benefits of different domains of leisure activities on
aging experiences remains unclear. We included 8,893 older adults (mean age=63.18) from the Health and
Retirement Study, a nationally representative study of individuals over the age of 50 in the US. Comparing
four domains of leisure engagement (physical, creative, cognitive, and community activities), physical activity
was most consistently associated with experiences of aging. It was related to more positive aging
experiences concurrently in all seven domains (daily functioning, physical fitness, long-term physical health
problems, heart health, weight, sleep, subjective perceptions of health) and was beneficially associated with
all but one (heart health) of these domains eight years later. Engagement in creative activities was also
positively related to experiences of aging in most domains concurrently, and daily functioning, physical
fitness, sleep, and subjective perceptions of health longitudinally. However, cognitive and community
activity engagement were less consistently related to aging experiences, particularly longitudinally. Looking
across health domains, daily functioning, physical fitness, and subjective perceptions of health were most
often associated with leisure engagement. Associations were independent of other domains of leisure
engagement, demographic and socioeconomic factors, and previous experiences of aging. Our findings
indicate that physical and creative activities may have a direct influence on important aging metrics, helping
to reduce age-related decline, and keeping older adults functionally independent for longer.

Citation Keybone_bu_sonke_fancourt_2023