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While considerable attention has been given to quantifying leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) among subpopulations, less attention has focused on the perception of the experience as leisure. The current study describes the prevalence of leisure-like experiences during LTPA among college students. We describe the social contexts and activity settings that contribute to participant enjoyment of LTPA since enjoyment has been linked to participation and adherence.
Data were collected from 192 undergraduate students using a short questionnaire and 2 days of time diaries.
Respondents spent nearly equal time working, sleeping, and engaged in discretionary activities. Students reported 512 minutes of discretionary time each day, of which 77 minutes were spent in LTPA and 68% was classified by respondents as leisure. Active sports/ exercise (including aerobics and weight lifting), walking, and dancing at bars or parties were the most frequent LTPA choices. When LTPA involved the presence of human companions, activities were more likely to be perceived by respondents as leisure experiences. Physical activities undertaken at public parks, bars/dance clubs and private recreation centers were also more likely to be perceived as leisure experiences.
Findings indicate that social instead of traditional exercise activities may motivate LTPA participation among college students. For example, results suggest the importance of dancing in this population.
Shores is with the Dept of Recreation & Leisure Studies, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC. West is with the Dept of Health, Leisure, and Exercise Science, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.