We explain what leisure is, its history and why it is a human need. Also, what types of leisure exist and multiple examples.

Adults and children enjoy a moment of leisure on a roller coaster.
The tourism industry, the entertainment industry and the cultural industry depend on leisure.

What is leisure?

Leisure, also called free time, is time that is not dedicated to productive activities (such as working, studying, etc.), but can be invested in distraction, fun and rest. Therefore, Leisure activities are those that are done out of pleasure and not out of obligation or sense of duty.

The word “leisure” comes from Latin otiumwith the same meaning, formerly used in Latin expressions such as otiosus dies (“free days”). The antonym or opposite of him was negotium (with the negative prefix nec-), where the word comes from business. The term has always referred to inactive or unproductive time.which has earned it negative connotations in different religions and moral codes, dedicated to the exaltation of work and the sense of duty.

However, numerous ancient philosophers such as Plato (c. 427-347 BC) and Aristotle (384-322 BC) debated the virtues of certain forms of leisure that they considered “serious” or “aesthetic.” Aristotle even states in his Nicomachean Ethics that “Just as war is waged to have peace, the reason why one works is to obtain leisure,” and distinguishes between free time (not working) and leisure (the recreation of the spirit). In his view, leisure was free time well spent, which brings human beings closer to divine nature.

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Other classical thinkers, such as Epicurus (341-270 BC), also spoke about the need to free the individual from work and obligations, so that he can achieve inner serenity. But this changed considerably during the times of the Roman Empire, when leisure was seen simply as rest to be able to fulfill the vital task, which is work. This ethical consideration was inherited by numerous Western cultures in which work was always worshiped.

In modern times, however, Leisure has been claimed as a human need and an opportunity for personal growth. In general, all people aspire to leisure time, whether they dedicate it to enriching experiences or mere distraction, and the tendency is to reduce daily working hours. Furthermore, leisure time is also a source of wealth for society: Both the tourism industry, the entertainment industry and the cultural industry, among others, require people with free time to consume their goods and services.

See also: Recreational activities

Types of leisure

There are different ways of understanding and classifying leisure. The tendency, however, is to distinguish between free time that is dedicated to mere recreation and that which is dedicated to personal growth experiences. Thus, we must distinguish between:

  • Active leisure. Equivalent to the “serious” or “aesthetic” leisure of the ancient Greeks, it is that free time that is invested in activities considered valuable by society, either because they bring some type of teaching, growth or improvement, or because they strengthen spiritual aspects. and psychological of the individual. For example: reading literature, watching a play, learning a language, etc.
  • Passive leisure. It is that free time that is invested in fleeting distraction and entertainment, that is, in entertainment considered by society as futile, unnutritious or superficial. For example: watching television, being on social networks, playing games of chance, etc.
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Importance of leisure

Leisure is an aspect of life as fundamental as work is. The division of the modern schedule into three blocks of eight hours (8 hours of work, 8 hours of sleep and 8 hours of leisure) has, in fact, the purpose of leaving the worker a margin of free time to not only resolve his personal activities. , but also distract oneself or cultivate other types of social, spiritual or cultural ambitions.

Furthermore, it is a set of economically exploitable activities, which They feed different industries and have their own consumption models. Artists and museums, libraries, theaters, the video game industry, the music industry, among others, are dedicated to meeting leisure needs.

Examples of leisure activities

Some examples of leisure activities are:

  • Read a novel or a book of poems.
  • Go to the cinema to see a movie.
  • Play a video game.
  • Play sports individually or collectively.
  • Plant plants and garden.
  • Do a ceramics workshop.
  • Go dancing at a nightclub.
  • Have a picnic with friends.
  • Undertake a trip to a foreign country.
  • Watch TV.
  • Interact on social networks.
  • Sit in the square to feed the pigeons.
  • Go to an exhibition in a museum.
  • Visit relatives.
  • Take a walk in the park.
  • Play bingo.

Continue with: Hobby


  • “Leisure” in the Language Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy.
  • “Etymology of leisure” in the Online Spanish Etymological Dictionary.
  • “Leisure” in The Encyclopaedia Britannica.