Culture linked to improved health

Image caption Culture linked to good health

Trips to the theatre, concerts, art galleries and museums have been linked to better health and wellbeing, according to researchers in Norway.

A report, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, showed the more often people engaged in cultural activities the greater their health benefits.

The authors suggest culture could be used to promote good health.

The study interviewed 50,797 adults from Nord-Trøndelag County in Norway.

They were asked about their health, and satisfaction with life, as well as levels of anxiety and depression.

They were also questioned about their involvement in two cultural fields: "creative culture" when the person does something such as play an instrument, paint or sing, and "receptive culture" including going to galleries and concerts.

Both types of cultural activity were linked with good health, wellbeing, low stress and low depression even when other factors, such as social background and wealth, were taken into account.

In men the effect was most pronounced in those who preferred to get their dose of culture as an observer rather than doing something more hands on.

The authors said: "The results indicate that the use of cultural activities in health promotion and healthcare may be justified."

The study, however, cannot say that culture improves health. It could be the case that healthier people are more likely to take part in cultural activities.

Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, spokesperson for the UK Faculty of Public Health, said: "It's interesting research, probably working through the release of hormones, like endorphins, increasing the feeling of wellbeing and reducing anxiety and depression."

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