Regular visits to museums, art galleries, the theatre or concerts are linked to a longer life, according to a study in the BMJ, with the authors further showing the more often people engage with the arts, the lower their risk of death.
For the study, researchers examined the associations between different frequencies of arts engagement and mortality over a 14-year follow-up period among 6,710 community-dwelling adults aged 50 years and older from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.
There were 2,001 deaths in the follow-up period. The authors reported that people who engaged in arts activities once or twice annually had a 14 per cent lower risk of dying at any time during the follow-up period than those who never engaged (809/3042 deaths, hazard ratio [HR] 0.86, 95% CI 0.77-0.96). Meanwhile, those who engaged with receptive arts activities on a frequent basis (every few months or more) had a 31 per cent lower risk of dying (355/1,906 deaths; HR 0.69; 95% CI 0.59-0.80).
The authors suggested that 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.