People who are involved in artistic hobbies like painting, dancing or playing musical instruments feel healthier and are less prone to depression than those who do not, according to a survey.
The study, carried out in Norway on nearly 50,000 people, used questionnaires, interviews and examinations to determine the health profiles of the population.
It found that, regardless of socio-economic background, those involved in the arts, or who just enjoy watching them, felt healthier and less depressed.
The study was conducted for the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) Nord-Trøndelag Health Study, or HUNT.
Professor Jostein Holmen, presented the findings at a Norwegian health conference in November. He said: “There is a positive relationship between cultural participation and self-perceived health for both women and men.
“For men, there is also a positive relationship between cultural participation and depression, in that there is less depression among men who participate in cultural activities, although this is not true for women.”
He added that a particular surprise was that socio-economic status had no bearing on the effect the arts had on a person’s heath and wellbeing.
Steinar Krokstad, HUNT’s director and an associate professor at NTNU, said: “We in the health services do not always have control over the most effective preventive tools given the range of today’s illnesses. We need to increasingly focus on opportunities rather than on risk.”