Leisure Time Sports Activities and Life Satisfaction: Deeper Insights Based on a Representative Survey from Germany
Abstract Observational and experimental studies show that leisure time sporting activity (LTSA) is associated with higher well-being. However, scholars often seem to assume that 1) LTSA fosters “general” life satisfaction, thereby ignoring effects on domain satisfaction; 2) the effect of LTSA on well-being is linear and independent of a person’s general activity level; 3) the amount of LTSA is more important than the repertoire of LTSA, i.e. the number of different activities; 4) all kinds of LTSA are equal in their effects, irrespective of spatial and organisational context conditions. Using data from the German SALLSA-Study (“Sport, Active Lifestyle and Life Satisfaction”), a large-scale CAWI-Survey (N = 1008) representing the population ≥ 14 years, the paper takes a closer look on these assumptions. Findings demonstrate that LTSA is associated with general life satisfaction and domain-specific satisfaction (concerning relationships, appearance, leisure, work and health), but that the relationship is most pronounced for leisure satisfaction. Associations of sport with life satisfaction, leisure satisfaction and subjective health are non-linear, approaching an injection point from which on additional LTSA is no longer beneficial. Moreover, findings lend support to the notion that diversity in LTSA matters, as individuals with higher variation in sports activities are more satisfied. Finally, results with regard to spatial and organizational context suggest that outdoor sports and club-organized sports have additional benefits.