Types of Leisure Activities
Leisure can include virtually any activity. To help organize the options, researchers have classified leisure activities into four categories: cultural—such as attending sporting events, concerts, church services, and meetings; physical—such as basketball, hiking, aerobics, and gardening; social—such as visiting friends and going to parties; and solitary— including reading, listening to music, and watching television (Bosse & Ekerdt, 1981; Glamser & Hayslip, 1985). Leisure activities can also be considered in terms of the degree of cognitive, emotional, or physical involvement; skydivers would have high activity in all three areas. Examples of leisure activities organized along this dimension are listed in Table 12.2.
Forms of Leisure Activity and How They
Vary in Intensity of Cognitive, Emotional,
or Physical Involvement
Sexual activity Highly competitive games or sports Dancing
Creative activities (art, literature, music) Nurturance or teaching (children’s arts and crafts) Serious discussion and analysis
Attending cultural events Participating in clubs Sightseeing or travel
Socializing Reading for pleasure Light conversation
Solitude Quiet resting Taking a nap
An alternative approach to classifying leisure activities involves the distinction between preoccupations and interests (Rapoport & Rapoport, 1975). Preoccupations are much like daydreaming. Sometimes preoccupations become more focused and are converted to interests. Interests are ideas and feelings about things one would like to do, is curious about, or is attracted to. Jogging, surfing the Web, fishing, and painting are some examples of interests.
Rapoport and Rapoport’s distinction draws attention to a key truth about leisure: Any specific activity has different meaning and value, depending on the individual involved. For example, cooking a gourmet meal is an interest, or a leisure activity, for many people. For professional chefs, however, it is work and thus is not leisure at all.
Given the wide range of options, how do people pick their leisure activities? Apparently, each of us has a leisure repertoire, a personal library of intrinsically motivated activities that we do regularly (Mobily, Lemke, & Gisin, 1991). The activities in our repertoire are determined by two things: perceived competence (how good we think we are at the activity compared to other people our age) and psychological comfort (how well we meet our personal goals for performance). Other factors are important as well: income, interest, health, abilities, transportation, education, and social characteristics (Lawton et al., 2002; Wilcox et al., 2003). For example, some leisure activities, such as downhill skiing, are relatively expensive and require transportation and reasonably good health and physical coordination for maximum enjoyment. In contrast, reading requires minimal finances (if one uses a public library) and is far less physically demanding. It is probable that how these factors influence leisure activities changes through adulthood (e. g., physical prowess typically declines somewhat).