Leisure-Time Physical Activity and Transitions Into and Through Parenthood

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This study provides a novel figurational sociological examination of transitions into and through parenthood and its impact on leisure time physical activity (LTPA). Drawing on the qualitative findings of an online survey completed by 218 UK parents (n=186 female, n=32 male), we show how the initial transition into parenthood was associated with a general decline in LTPA participation. This was typically accompanied by decreases in parents’ capacity to derive the pleasurable excitement, tension, and sociability they previously experienced when being more active. As their offspring got older, many parents were better able to re-engage in LTPA and valued family-based leisure for fun, social activities that provided a site for building family bonds. Our evidence emphasises the continued – but often overlooked – importance of Elias and Dunning’s (2008) work on the quest for excitement in leisure, and how engagement in LTPA can help parents and other participants to meet a socially conditioned psychological need for sociability and mental refreshment through the generation of pleasurable tension or excitement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
JournalLeisure Studies
Early online date23 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 May 2024


  • figurational sociology
  • mental health
  • parents
  • physical activity
  • quest for excitement

Research Centres

  • Sport and Mental Health Research Centre

Research Groups

  • Sport, Physical Activity, Health & Wellbeing


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