Forget your gym membership. It’s time to get some theater tickets.
According to a new study, conducted in England and published in the BMJ last month, the arts aren’t just enjoyable – they might keep you from dying too soon.
For the study, researchers asked participants over the age of 50 to self-report how frequently they participated in “receptive arts engagement” over the course of 14 years. This means trips to museums, art galleries, exhibitions, the theater, concerts or the opera.
According to the results, those who engaged in these activities at least once every few months had a 31 percent lesser chance of dying during the 14 years than those who didn’t do these activities. Those who participated in these activities only once or twice a year had a 14 percent lower risk of dying than those who did not.
The study says these results are “independent of demographic, socioeconomic, health related, behavioural, and social factors.”
“This association might be partly explained by differences in cognition, mental health, and physical activity among those who do and do not engage in the arts, but remains even when the model is adjusted for these factors,” reads the study’s conclusion.
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The study notes no causality can be assumed just yet.
In a video interview attached to the study, Daisy Fancourt, an associate professor of psychobiology and epidemiology at the University of Central London, discusses the role the arts can play in medical treatment.
“The other way of looking at this is, if the arts are actually helping to reduce the risk of things like mental or physical illness or they’re helping with health promoting behaviors or with the management of health conditions, then this might add up and actually start to have an association with mortality,” she said.