Looking for the fountain of youth? Try a museum.
Arts and music – whether it be urban murals, a Renaissance painting, or an opera performance – can be a source of joy. But could engaging with the arts also be good for your health?
That was the finding of one study recently published in The BMJ. For the study, researchers followed 6,710 individuals aged 50 and older for 14 years, documenting the number of times they went to a museum, art gallery or exhibition, theater, concert or opera. They compared that against the number of deaths in that same 14-year time frame.
At the end of the study period, the researchers found that those who engaged with the arts even just once or twice a year were 14% less likely to die during the 14-year period compared to those who didn’t engage with the arts at all. And this trend held up if study participants engaged with the arts on a more frequent basis: Those who engaged with the arts at least every few months were 31% less likely to die during the time period.
The study authors, however, were careful not to label the arts as the direct cause for longer life.
“The specific act of going to a museum or concert does not in-and-of-itself lead to a longer lifespan,” says Dr. Elizabeth Rutha, a clinical psychologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center. “However, receptive engagement with the arts is associated with improved mental cognition, physical activity, and engagement in the community, all of which are correlated with longevity in older adults.”
So the next time you’re looking for a weekend adventure, consider checking out the nearest art museum or a local concert. You might be doing your health a favor.
About the Author
Jaimie Oh, health enews contributor, is regional manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Health Care. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has nearly a decade of experience working in publishing, strategic communications and marketing. Outside of work, Jaimie trains for marathons with the goal of running 50 races before she turns 50 years old.