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A new study has found that free time might worsen people’s health. While having too little free time might be detrimental to your health, the same goes for having too much free time. As leisure time goes up, wellness for an individual also increases. However, this only applies to a certain point.

According to the assistant professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania and lead study author, Dr. Marissa Sharif, having too little time is not good for one’s well-being. However, the same applies to having too much time.

Researchers analyzed data from past studies

The team analyzed data from 21,700 Americans who took part in the American Time Use Survey conducted between 2012 and 2013. They asked the participants to provide details of their activities in the last 24 hours and their sense of well-being. Well-being went up with free time. However, it leveled off after two hours and decreased after five.

They also looked at data from the 1992-2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce. They asked 13,600 American volunteers how they spent their free time. The results also showed an increase in well-being as leisure increased to a certain point.

Researchers carry out a series of tests

The researchers carried out their online experiments with over 6000 people. For the first experiment, researchers split the volunteers into three groups. Researchers gave one group about 7 hours of free time each day. The second group had 3.5 hours, while the last had 15 minutes. They then asked them for their levels of satisfaction, happiness, and enjoyment.

The group with 3.5 hours of free time reported higher levels of well-being than the other two groups. However, the group with the least discretionary time experienced higher stress levels, while the group with the most time did not feel productive.

The second experiment involved productivity. Researchers asked the participants to imagine having either 7 hours or 3.5 hours of discretionary time. They then asked them to imagine themselves doing unproductive activities such as watching T.V or productive activities such as hobbies or exercise.

Participants with a lot of free time had less well-being when they did unproductive activities; however, when activities were productive, their well-being was similar to those with 3.5 hours.