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