Men who visit art galleries, museums, and the theatre regularly tend to enjoy better health and are more satisfied with life, reveals a study published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
The study found that both men and women who play musical instruments, paint or visit the theatre or museums felt in better health, enjoyed life more, and were less likely to be anxious or depressed then people who do not participate in cultural activities.
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.
The Norwegian researchers used questionnaires to determine how frequently 50,797 adults living in Nord-Trøndelag County participated in cultural activities and to assess their perceived state of health, satisfaction with life, and anxiety and depression levels.
All types of 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.
Moreover, the more culture was experienced, the greater were the benefits to health and wellbeing. The greatest benefits were seen in men who did "receptive" cultural activities, such as visiting theatres and museums.
"The results indicate that the use of cultural activities in health promotion and healthcare may be justified," comment the authors.
Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health