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Leisure — Overview

Leisure, or free time, and the use we make of it provide important personal and social benefits. Involvement in leisure activities typically provides enjoyment and relaxation, reduces stress, and often improves mental health and physical fitness. Research also suggests that leisure activities that are mentally and physically stimulating are important to healthy growth, development, and aging.

The amount of time Canadians have for leisure and the way we use this time are the focus of the three indicators in this section. Leisure time focuses on the hours we have available per day and how we balance this time with work and caring for ourselves and others. The active and passive leisure indicators look at the way we divide our leisure time between stimulating and relaxing forms of recreation. Active leisure is further divided into three categories of activity: those that involve social connection, those that provide cognitive stimulation, and those that entail physical exercise.


  • The average time Canadians spent on leisure in 2010 was 5.45 hours per day. Between 1998 and 2010, average leisure time decreased from 5.8 to 5.5 hours (21 minutes) per day.
  • On average, men spent more time (5.8 hours), than did women (5.2 hours) on leisure activities in 2010. Men also tended to spend more time on sports and exercise, as well as on hobbies and pastimes (more than 3 hours more per week), while women tended to spend more time socializing with friends (close to an hour more per week).
  • In 2010, Canadians spent less time on social leisure pursuits than in 1998. Time spent on socializing decreased by roughly 2.1 hours per week on average between 1998 and 2010.
  • Older Canadians tended to spend a greater amount of time on passive leisure activities such as watching television. In 2010, Canadians 75 and older spent close to 1.5 hours more per day on passive leisure than did Canadians overall. Older Canadians also spent more time (a little over half an hour more per day) on hobbies, reading, and other forms of leisure activities that stimulate thinking.

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