Exploring the Relationship Between Physical Activity and Leisure in the Lives of Young Australians

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Kim Jose
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Emily Hansen
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Leisure-time physical activity is a term used by physical activity researchers to describe physical activity undertaken during nonwork time. In this study we explore how young people speak about physical activity in relation to leisure.


Eight focus groups and one group interview were conducted with 50 participants aged 16−26 years. Participants included males and females, rural and urban dwellers, and a mixture of active/inactive young people. Focus group transcripts underwent an iterative thematic analysis.


Participants found it difficult to recognize leisure time activities in their day to day lives and only rarely mentioned their physical activity involvement when asked about leisure time activities. When discussing physical activity study participants commonly focused on high intensity physical activity such as sport and gym use. Three major themes relating to leisure and physical activity were identified: the meanings ascribed to physical activity, the experience of physical activity, and routines of participation.


These findings suggest that the relationship between physical activity and leisure is complex and the term leisure with its associated concepts of satisfaction, relaxation and pleasure may not accurately reflect the way young people view their participation in physical activity.

The authors are with Menzies Research Institute, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

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