Men's health * Healthy living

Art galleries good for men's health

Art galleries good for men s health Improve mental and physical well-being

Visiting art galleries, museums and going to the theatre is good for men's physical and mental health, according to a new study.

Men who regularly observed - rather than participated in - cultural activities, enjoyed better health and had lower levels of anxiety and depression, the study found.

However, women appeared to benefit more than men from participating in a creative cultural activity, including playing a musical instrument, being in a choir or attending dance classes.

In the study, researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology questioned more than 50,000 men and women about their participation in cultural activities, state of health and overall satisfaction with life.

These included questions about "receptive" cultural activities, including how often they visited museums, art galleries, concerts, films or attended a sporting event.

The participants were also asked about any "creative" cultural activities they were actively involved in, including playing an instrument, singing, drama, outdoor activities, dance and sport.

Overall, all cultural activities were significantly associated with good health and satisfaction with life, and people who engaged in cultural activities had lower levels of anxiety and depression, the study found.

The more culture they experienced, the greater the benefits to health and wellbeing, the researchers said.

However, the effect was most pronounced in men who were interested in watching and looking at culture rather than doing creative or active cultural activities themselves.

In contrast, women seemed to benefit more from taking part in creative activities.

The study authors suggest that cultural activities may lead to improved blood pressure and a reduction in stress levels.

“The results indicate that the use of cultural activities in health promotion and healthcare may be justified," they concluded.

This article was published on Tue 24 May 2011

Image © Pierre Helger - Photolia

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