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ABS: Australians spend 21% of their lives on ‘free time’ activities

ABS: Australians spend 21% of their lives on ‘free time’ activities
May 28, 2010

Australians spent 21% of their time on 'free time' activities in 2006, compared with 22% in 1997, according to data just released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The report Time Use on Recreation and Leisure Activities (4173.0) defines 'free time' as the time allocated to social and community interaction and recreation and leisure.

In 2006, 85% of people's free time was spent on recreation and leisure activities include playing sport, walking, participating in games or hobbies, reading and watching television.

Their remaining free time was spent on social and community interaction including attending a concert, visiting a library or amusement park, attending sports events and participating in religious ceremonies.

There was little change in time spent on social and community interaction activities between 1997 and 2006, with the average time reducing only slightly from 45 minutes a day to 43 minutes a day.

There was a much more noticeable change in the amount of time people spent on recreation and leisure activities, which was four hours and 13 minutes a day in 2006, 15 minutes less than in 1997.

The greatest decreases were reported in time spent on sport and outdoor activities at 21 minutes a day (six minutes less than 1997) and games, hobbies arts and crafts at 13 minutes a day (four minutes less then 1997).

Interestingly, time spent on audio/visual media activities, as the most popular recreation and leisure activity reported, increased by eight minutes a day from two hours and 10 minutes a day in 1997 to two hours and 18 minutes a day in 2006.

Unsurprisingly, the report shows that the average time people spent on free time activities increased on the weekend when compared with weekdays. In 2006 Australian men spent six hours and 43 minutes and women spent five hours and 46 minutes on free time activities per day on the weekend.

Accordingly, the average amount of time that people spent on recreational and leisure activities also increased on the weekend compared with weekdays, with men spending more time (five hours and 32 minutes a day) on the weekend on recreation and leisure activities than women (four hours and 33 minutes a day).

Overall, men spent 31 minutes more a day on recreation and leisure activities in 2006 compared with women (four hours and 28 minutes for men and three hours and 57 minutes for women). Men spent more time than women participating in most recreation and leisure activities, in particular sport and outdoor activity (25 minutes a day compared with 17 minutes a day).

Between 1997 and 2006 the amount of time men spent on sport and outdoor activity reduced more noticeably than for women (eight minutes less a day for men and three minutes less a day for women). The amount of time men spent on audio/visual media activities increased more than for women (11 minutes more compared with four minutes more respectively).

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Image courtesy of the NRMA.

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