In a groundbreaking study conducted by The University of Western Australia (UWA) and the Busselton Health Study, the key to ageing well has been unveiled, and it’s not a newfangled superfood or the latest exercise trend—it’s art.
The research, a collaboration between UWA’s Good Arts Good Mental Health Project (GAGMH) and the Busselton Population Medical Research Institute’s Busselton Healthy Ageing Study (BHAS), establishes a compelling link between engaging in the arts and better physical health and mental well-being among older Australians.
Lead author Dr Christina Davies, who spearheaded the study, said the results indicate that “arts can provide a range of health enhancing opportunities”.
“Whether you like listening to music, reading, colouring, singing, dancing or attending concerts, the arts can provide a range of health enhancing opportunities,” Dr Davies said.
“People don’t need to be good at art for the arts to be good for them. It’s about having a go and taking part in the arts activities and events that make you feel good.”
A study has linked a dose of the arts to wellbeing in older Australians. Find out more about the art of ageing well. 🎨🎭🎵 #UWA @artshealthwa @BusseltonStudyhttps://t.co/ayElHsD1JN pic.twitter.com/ljPCRdGE4U
— UWA (@uwanews) December 18, 2023
Dr Michael Hunter, the Busselton Health Study Centre Director, emphasised that approximately 85 per cent of the study cohort actively participated in the arts during the past year. This involvement ranged from attending events and making art to learning about art and volunteering at arts organisations.
Drawing parallels to the positive health benefits derived from physical activity, Dr Hunter suggested that programs encouraging participation in recreational arts activities might be a valuable population-based approach to healthy ageing.
“Like the positive health benefits derived from physical activity, our study suggests that programs that encourage participation in recreational arts activities may be a useful population-based approach to healthy aging,” Dr Hunter said.
Looking ahead, further research plans to explore the concept of the “arts dose” – the optimal amount of time older adults should engage in artistic activities to witness a positive impact on physical and mental health. For mental well-being, the identified arts dose is two hours per week for the general population.
As the holiday season approaches, the study’s findings offer a unique perspective on gift-giving for older friends and relatives.
This Christmas, why not wrap up an experience in the arts, ushering in not just joy but potentially better health and well-being for your loved ones? The art of ageing well has never been so beautifully revealed.