Frequent trips to the museum, art gallery or theatre could make you live longer according to a new study from University College London.

Couple looking at red blank art in gallery
A study from University College London has revealed that regularly engaging with the arts can make you live longer ©Getty Images

Whether it's a night out on Broadway, a visit to the Met or a music gig with friends, engaging with the arts could add years to your life. A new study published in the British Medical Journal found that regularly engaging with the arts has a direct effect on a person's lifespan. Essentially, the more of a culture vulture you are, the lower your risk of premature death.

Research led by Dr Daisy Fancourt from UCL revealed that people who engaged in cultural activities frequently (every few months) had a 31% lower risk of dying early than those who didn't engage with the arts at all. Even those who went to museums or the theatre just once or twice a year were found to have a 14% lower risk of dying early.

Visitors looking at the painting entitled Madonna and Child with Flowers by Leonardo Da Vinci, at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg
Results of the study were published in the British Medical Journal ©chrisdorney/Shutterstock

For the study, researchers analysed data from more than 6700 adults over the age of 50 in England, who were part of a larger study of ageing: the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). Participants' exposure to the arts was monitored over a period of 12 years, and outside factors likely to influence the results  such as marital status, employment, wealth, education and friendship groups – were taken into account in order to get a balanced result.

Inside the empty heritage Winter Garden Theatre, the last surviving Edwardian stacked theatre in the world
Participants' exposure to the arts was  monitored over a period of 12 years ©EQRoy/Shutterstock

While the study didn't uncover why a more culturally enriched life can help people live longer (further trials are needed), report authors said the results highlight the "importance of continuing to explore new social factors as core determinants of health." It also noted that while everyone should have the chance to experience cultural pursuits, "the very people who have the most to gain from participating in the arts, such as the poorest and those with depression or loneliness, are least likely to do so."

Explore related stories

May 16, 2024: We started the day at the Centro Ecuestre Los Caireles.  There we met our hosts Miguel Angel and his brother Jesus, who own and run the farm.  (Miguel Angel wore a black vest.)  The Centro is a horse back riding school.  We shot pics at their farm and then headed to the town of Consuegra.  On the mountain overlooking the town, there is a castle and several windmills.  We shot pics and video of Miguel Angel and Jesus riding around the windmills and the castle.  This area is notable because it is where the fictional Don Quixote rode around in Miguel de Cervantes’ famous novel.  Afterward, we returned back to El Centro where we filmed our hosts riding by grape vineyards and olive groves to the nearby Villafranca de los Caballeros lagoons.
Spain Marketing 1379722


Celebrating Sustainable Spain

Jul 8, 2024 • 10 min read