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The US population is aging, such that, by 2050, 20 percent of the population will be age 65 or older. The changes are relevant because of the number of people working, and the number of people engaging in leisure activities. Researches have shown that retirees participate in a number of leisure activities, including reading or writing, exercising, traveling, listening to music, and engaging in religious or spiritual activities.
Recently, Jungu Ryu And Jinmoo Heo, both of Texas A&M University, conducted a study to examine the influence of leisure activities on older individual’s lives. To do so, they collected data from 188 persons living in various retirement communities.
The researchers focused on three outcomes: life satisfaction, optimism, and perceptions of one’s health.
They found that people who engaged in physical activities, home-centered and social activities, and volunteer activities all expressed more life satisfaction.
The authors also found that optimism was linked with involvement in cultural activities and entertainment.
Finally, older individuals had higher perceptions of their health when they were involved in outdoor activities, home-centered and social activities, and when they volunteered.
Overall, the authors show that “engaging in positive social interactions in recreational settings and encouraging participation in volunteer activities are important aspects of successful aging.” Involvement in these activities allows older adults to be remain socially connected and physically active. Given the aging of the US population, the findings are especially instructive.