Seeing a Broadway show or checking out that new art exhibit isn’t just entertaining, it could also help you live longer.
According to a study from University College London that was published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), participating in the arts can actually stave off the risk of early death, Lonely Planet reported. Participating in the arts, in this case, means going to the theater, visiting a museum, or engaging in any other cultural activities.
The 14-year study sampled 6,710 British adults aged 50 years or older. About 53 percent of the sample were women (the other half, men), and the average age of all participants was around 66 years, according to the study in BMJ.
The study shows that people who engaged in the arts frequently (every few months or more) were 31 percent less likely to die a premature death. Factors like demographics, socioeconomic status, health, behavioral traits, marital status, and other risks were also taken into account, according to Lonely Planet. The results are independent of these factors, it says in BMJ.
But you don’t have to visit an arts institution (or throw down $400 to see Hamilton) every weekend in order to get the benefits. The study concluded that people who engage in the arts infrequently (one or two times per year) also had a lower risk of an early death by about 14 percent.
It’s unclear as to why the arts seem so important to living a long, healthy life. According to the study, the results “might be partly explained by differences in cognition, mental health, and physical activity among those who do and do not engage in the arts.”
In other words, the health benefits of seeing a show or visiting a museum may help you live longer in the same way that spending time in nature, taking a relaxing vacation, or even indulging in a nap might help you. These activities are enriching, relaxing, and de-stressing – all ingredients for a happy and healthy life.
Results for the study can be found on the British Medical Journal website.