Leisure engagement and self-perceptions of aging: Longitudinal analysis of concurrent and lagged relationships

TitleLeisure engagement and self-perceptions of aging: Longitudinal analysis of concurrent and lagged relationships
Publication TypeMiscellaneous
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsBu, F, Mak, HWan, Bone, J, Gao, Q, Sonke, J, Fancourt, D

Objectives: There is evidence to suggest that leisure engagement may influence self-perceptions of ageing, but disentangling potential bidirectionality in this relationship is challenging. A better understanding of the directionality of this association is essential for designing more effective interventions to promote healthy aging. We therefore tested both lagged and concurrent effects in both directions both for a composite measure of leisure engagement as well as specific domains of community, cognitive, creative, and physical activities.

Method: A total of 17,753 adults aged 50 or above living in the United States from the Health and Retirement Study were included in the analysis. They provided 32,703 observations over three waves between 2008/2010 and 2016/2018. Data were analysed using structural equation modelling with both concurrent and lagged associations between self-perceptions of aging and leisure engagement, controlling for confounders including age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic position, and health conditions.
Results: We found consistent evidence for leisure engagement as a predictor of self-perceptions of aging. There was weaker evidence for a reciprocal relationship, although this was found in the domains of creative activities and physical activities, where these two activities were also predicted by older adults’ self-perceptions of aging.

Discussion: Our findings provide empirical support for potential benefits of leisure engagement on positive self-perceptions of aging, regardless of the type of activities. As the overall association appears to be stronger between leisure engagement and subsequent self-perceptions of aging, interventions designed to increase leisure engagement may be effective for improving older adults' health.

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