Does going to the theatre make you feel good? Or perhaps you love to volunteer in creating exhibits and displays for the local library? A new study shows that participating in different cultural activities -- whether in schools, at church, or in the community at large -- is more than just good for your friends and neighbours -- it is also good for your health.
Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) analysed information about participation in cultural activities and health from a population-based study called HUNT that involved more than 50 000 participants from 2006-2008. The analysis -- conducted by Koenraad Cuypers, Steinar Krokstad, Turid Lingaas Holmen, Margunn Skjei Knudtsen, Lars Olov Bygren and Jostein Holmen, showed a surprising link between participation in different kinds of community cultural activities and good health.
Active or passive involvement both help
In fact, being involved in either receptive cultural activities (such as attending a theatre performance or viewing an art show) or creative culture activities (where participants themselves are active in the creative process) was found to be related not only to good health, but to satisfaction with life, and low levels of anxiety and depression.
"Up to now physical activity has been recognized as a measure that promotes good health. But our study shows that other daily life activities may promote good health from a holistic point of view," the NTNU researchers said. "The results suggest that the use of cultural activities in health promotion and health care may be justified."
Intriguing gender differences
The findings also showed a number of interesting differences between men and women in terms of health benefits:
The HUNT study involved 50 797 adult participants from Nord-Trøndelag County, Norway who were queried about different aspects of their lifestyles and health. The researchers' findings will be published in the upcoming issue of Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
The above story is based on materials provided by The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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