If you’re a culture vulture – if you paint, dance, play the guitar (or another musical instrument) and appreciate the arts – a Norwegian study suggests that you’re better off physically and psychologically. Cultured citizens there are healthier and less inclined to be depressed than those who don’t dab paint on canvas, dance, or make music. As a matter of fact, the study found that those who simply attend concerts or the theater are healthier and less depressed than those who don’t.
The investigators reached their conclusion after assembling health profiles of more than 48,000 men and women and also collecting blood and urine samples from the participants. They reported that they found less depression among men who engaged in cultural activities, but the data didn’t show less depression among women. Surprisingly, the results held true regardless of the socio-economic status of the group studied – cultural activities had an overall positive effect on an individual’s sense of health and well-being.
The lead investigator said that the health link to cultural activities isn’t strong enough to say that culture actually makes people healthy, but offers some insight on how to think about risk. The findings have not yet been published but were presented at a Norwegian health conference in November, 2009.
This interesting study isn’t the first to see a link between culture and health. We’ve known for some time that music can have a powerful effect on mind and body. Hospitals use music therapy to ease pain, boost patients’ moods and counteract depression, and music therapy stimulates nursing home residents and improves the moods of psychiatric patients.
viewing art is a wonderful way to raise your spirits. Paintings, sculpture, architecture and other forms of art can please the senses and nourish your nonphysical being. They can also inspire creativity and excitement, and can be savored as a tangible expression of history.
Going to the theater is just one of the stimulating habits that can keep your mind active and may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.