Reading, TV-Watching Favorite Leisure Activities – but Declining

November 20, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Media & Entertainment | Television

Americans’ favorite leisure activities are reading, TV-watching and spending time with friends and family – the same top three as in 2004, but with lower percentage of people citing them, according to a Harris Poll.

Also according to the results of the survey:

  • Over one-third (35%) cited reading in 2004, but this year that is down to 29%.
  • TV watching has dropped from 21% to 18%.
  • Spending time with friends and family has dropped from 20% to 14%.
  • Computer activities has risen from 7% to 9%.
  • Going to the movies has dropped from 10% to 7%.


Biggest Changes

The largest increases in popularity in the past 12 years – since 1995, when this survey was first conducted – are the following:

  • Computer activities (not surprisingly) – up seven points, from 2% to 9%.
  • Watching sporting events (up four points)
  • Exercise (up three points)
  • Crafts (up three points)


The biggest declines in popularity over the last 12 years are in TV-watching (down seven points), sewing/crocheting (down five points), entertaining (down four points) and swimming (down four points).

Hours Working and Available for Leisure

The number of hours spent working (including housekeeping and studying) dropped from a median of 50 hours in 2004 to a median of 45 hours this year – the lowest since 1975, when it was at 43 hours.

The number of hours available for leisure per week has not changed much since 2004. It is now 20 hours; in 2004 it was 19 hours.

About the survey: The Harris Poll was conducted by telephone within the United States between October 16 and 23 among 1,052 adults (age 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, number of adults in the household, size of place (urbanicity) and number of phone lines in the household were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

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