Good For the Mind, Good For the Soul
How do the arts improve physical health and quality of life? A study created by the National Endowment for the Arts and George Washington University measured the impact of community-based cultural programs on the general health, mental health, and social activities of people age 65 and older. The results of the study showed that those adults involved weekly in an arts program reported:
- Better health, fewer doctor visits, and less medication usage
- More positive responses on the mental health measures
- More involvement in overall activities
Arts and culture are integral to well-being at all stages, but notably when reaching retirement age. The Journal of Aging Studies reported that aging adults involved in creative activities felt a stronger sense of purpose, competence, and growth, and reported stronger development in problem-solving skills, motivation, and management of their everyday lives.
“Community-based cultural programs for older adults appear to be reducing risk factors that drive the need for long-term care.” – Creativity and Aging Study
Being involved in the arts doesn’t have to include portrait exhibitions or instrumental performances. Simply listening to music alone can decrease stress, lower your blood pressure, increase mental alertness, and improve your memory and mood.
Dance also improves health and well-being. According to the University of California at Berkeley, dance improves balance, walking speed, reaction time, and cognitive performance. It can also count as your workout; the study found it to be as effective as a moderate aerobic exercise program at improving heart health. Studies also show dancing helps reduce depression, anxiety, and stress.