Although everyone is allotted 24 hours in a day, there are considerable differences in how men and women in varying age groups spend their leisure time. Most notably, American men have nearly 40 minutes more leisure time than women per day. However, it's important to note men generally have more broadly-defined leisure activities than women. For instance, American men shop for 43 minutes per day, while women shop for 59 minutes, according to the OECD, yet it's possible that some of this shopping time has a leisure component and thus women categorize it entirely as a leisure time activity.
Taking It Outdoors
Nevertheless, both men and women place high importance on spending their leisure time outdoors, and both admit they don't get out enough. Women, on average, want to spend seven more hours outdoors every week, while men hope for nine more hours, according to Timex Expedition's Outdoor Survey.
"It's extremely common for people to consider themselves "outdoorsy," but it means different things to different people," says Timex's Pia Baker. "Some consider hunting outdoorsy, while others say taking a walk around the block [fits the description]."
Sports and fitness is increasingly a key component of Americans' leisure time. To that end, women are more likely than men to run or jog (86% vs. 79%), walk (34% vs. 16%), and, perhaps surprisingly, lift weights (45% vs. 36%), according to Active Marketing Group's Kristin Carroll. Males tend to focus on triathlon, cycling, mountain biking, and golf, whereas swimming, hiking and skiing show similar participation levels for both genders, she says.
Age Effects Leisure Time Activities
Leisure activities also are affected by age, or perhaps more accurately, a woman's life stage. Young adults aged 18–24 spend most of their free time on the computer (five hours per day) and socializing with friends (four hours per day).
Women aged 25–34 spend five hours per day caring for children, three hours watching TV, and less than two hours per day outdoors. "Young parents tend to see their outdoor time as social, [such as] picnicking or playing in the park," says Baker. Even their outdoor fitness routines take a backseat to family priorities. "Mothers who are committed to fitness still incorporate it into their lifestyle, but their focus on the family becomes their primary driver. [For example], instead of yoga or running a 3–5K [roadrace], she will take her kids to soccer games or coach her kids' team," says Carroll.
Boomers of both genders, conversely, spend five hours per day watching TV and less than one hour outdoors. When they do venture outside, they tend to prefer more sedate activities, such as gardening and even just sitting outside on a porch.
Source: Research Alert, EPM Communications, Inc., New York, NY. Phone: 212–941-0099. Website: www.epmcom.com.
Active Marketing Group, Kristin Carroll, VP Client Service and Strategy, 10182 Telesis Court, San Diego, CA 92121. Phone: 858–964-3801. Website: www.activemarketinggroup.com.
Timex Expedition Outdoor Survey, Timex, Pia Baker, Brand Director, P.O. Box 310, 555 Christian Rd., Middlebury, CT 06762. Phone: 203–346-5000. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.timex.com.