Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 605–615 | Cite as

Real-Time Associations Between Engaging in Leisure and Daily Health and Well-Being

  • Matthew J. ZawadzkiEmail author
  • Joshua M. SmythEmail author
  • Heather J. Costigan
Original Article



Engagement in leisure has a wide range of beneficial health effects. Yet, this evidence is derived from between-person methods that do not examine the momentary within-person processes theorized to explain leisure’s benefits.


This study examined momentary relationships between leisure and health and well-being in daily life.


A community sample (n = 115) completed ecological momentary assessments six times a day for three consecutive days. At each measurement, participants indicated if they were engaging in leisure and reported on their mood, interest/boredom, and stress levels. Next, participants collected a saliva sample for cortisol analyses. Heart rate was assessed throughout the study.


Multilevel models revealed that participants had more positive and less negative mood, more interest, less stress, and lower heart rate when engaging in leisure than when not.


Results suggest multiple mechanisms explaining leisure’s effectiveness, which can inform leisure-based interventions to improve health and well-being.


Leisure Mood Stress Ecological momentary assessment Multilevel modeling 


Conflict of Interest Statement

The authors, Matthew J. Zawadzki, Joshua M. Smyth, and Heather J. Costigan, have no conflict of interest to disclose.

Ethical Adherence Statement

The research was conducted in compliance with the American Medical Association and the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000.


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Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychological SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaMercedUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biobehavioral HealthThe Pennsylvania State UniversityState CollegeUSA

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