Most Korean seniors have no leisure activities

By Claire Lee
  • Published : Jul 20, 2014 - 21:33
  • Updated : Jul 20, 2014 - 21:33
The majority of older Koreans do not engage in leisure activities during their free time, a study conducted by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs found.

According to the study, which involved some 8,600 individuals aged 50 or older in some 5,000 households nationwide, more than 70 percent of the participating senior citizens did not have any leisure activities.

The research findings suggest that more support is needed for the nation’s elderly population, which accounted for 12.2 percent of the total population as of last year.

Those who did not have anything to do during their leisure time were the least healthy among the groups of seniors who participated in the study, including those who exercise or socialize during their free time.

Also, the group ― 72 percent of the participating senior citizens ― had the least amount of free time to begin with, as they either had jobs or family members, such as spouses or grandchildren, to take care of. The members of the group on average had four hours and 19 minutes of free time a week.

Meanwhile, those who spent their free time socializing were the healthiest and had the greatest amount of leisure time ― 21 hours and 11 minutes a week. The group made up only 3 percent of the senior citizens in the report.

“Female senior citizens who are in the workforce and have family members to take care of had the highest chance of not having any leisure-time activities,” said researcher Hwang Nam-hee, who wrote the report.

“It is necessary to create more leisure time programs for seniors, programs that can help them live a healthier lifestyle.”

While some 11.5 percent of the senior citizens spent their free time exercising, such as taking yoga classes, hiking or playing badminton, some 7.6 percent spent their free time taking care of pets and watering plants.

Some 5.9 percent of them played cards or go, while only 3 percent spent their leisure time socializing by attending regular gatherings of friends and neighbors.

Among them, those who exercise during their free time had the highest income, while those who play games, such as go or cards, had the lowest.

The Welfare Ministry predicts that those who are aged 65 or older will account for 24.3 percent of the nation’s entire population by 2030, and 40.1 percent by the year 2060.

By Claire Lee (