Social Relationships, Leisure Activity, and Health in Older Adults

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Abstract

Objective:

Although the link between enhanced social relationships and better health has generally been well established, few studies have examined the role of leisure activity in this link. This study examined how leisure influences the link between social relationships and health in older age.

Method:

Using data from the 2006 and 2010 waves of the nationally representative U.S. Health and Retirement Study and structural equation modeling analyses, we examined data on 2,965 older participants to determine if leisure activities mediated the link between social relationships and health in 2010, controlling for race, education level, and health in 2006.

Results:

The results demonstrated that leisure activities mediate the link between social relationships and health in these age groups. Perceptions of positive social relationships were associated with greater involvement in leisure activities, and greater involvement in leisure activities was associated with better health in older age.

Conclusion:

The contribution of leisure to health in these age groups is receiving increasing attention, and the results of this study add to the literature on this topic, by identifying the mediating effect of leisure activity on the link between social relationships and health. Future studies aimed at increasing leisure activity may contribute to improved health outcomes in older adults.

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