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Just what is leisure? Are people just lazy? Or is leisure an important component of physical and mental health?

Without leisure time would we have great works of art, rabid sports fans with shared team passion, adventure recreation and outdoor exploration?

Why do some cultures view leisure differently from others and what impact do those cultural differences have on their respective societies?

What impact to cultural differences have on the way we provide and manage for recreation opportunities?

Researchers in PRTM are engaged in exploring these questions and framing the discussion in the area of research known as Leisure Behavior. We’re finding that that leisure is a valuable means for freedom and self-expression and vital to both physical and mental health. In fact, you might say that leisure is the foundation of the disciplines of parks, recreation, tourism and sport.

The resulting knowledge from our research informs policy decisions for the workplace and land use management decisions that that affect lives to day and for generations to come.

The envisioned outcome

A whole new understanding of the value of “taking it easy.” Innovative research indeed.

Featured Project: Leisure in Later Life – Senior Games

Their mission?

nc-senior-games-cheer4Physical activity and social contacts were often identified as predictors of successful aging. Senior Games is a national movement based on local participation aimed to encourage older adults to be active in sports and fitness programs as well as creative arts. The purpose of the study conducted in North Carolina was to examine the role and influence of North Carolina Senior Games (NCSG) in addressing factors leading to successful aging.

Participants were asked questions about their NCSG involvement, reasons for participation, perceptions of benefits, and demographic characteristics. The random sample of participants indicated that keeping active, fun, friendships, and fitness were the primary reasons for participating in NCSG. Nine out of 10 individuals said that year-round participation made them feel good about their lives, while three-fourths said they were in very good to excellent health. Two-thirds of the participants noted that involvement in NCSG sports and arts activities motivated them to be more physically active as well as socially active.

Why does it matter?

Because socially and physically active adults can expect better health, lower healthcare costs, and independent living into their golden years.

Learn more about North Carolina Senior Games

Examples of Recent Publications from PRTM in the area of Leisure Behavior


Henderson, K., Casper, J., Wilson, B., & Dern, L. (2012). Behaviors, reasons, and outcomes perceived by senior games participants. Journal of Parks and Recreation Administration, 30(1), 19-35.


Henderson, K.A. (2010). The future of leisure studies: The sky is falling? Leisure Sciences, 32(4), 391-400.


Wilhelm-Stanis, S., Schneider, I.E., and Anderson, D.H. (2009). Parks and public health: Leisure time physical activity, constraints and negotiation strategies. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration 27(3):21-41.

Kudlácek, M., Bocarro, J.N., Jirásek, I., & Hanuš, R. (2009). The Czech way of inclusion in using an experiential education framework. Journal of Experiential Education, 32(1), 14-27.

Henderson, K.A. (2009). Expanding the meanings of leisure in a both/and world. Loisir & Societe, 31(1), 15-30.