Flex Your Art Muscles! How Art Fights Aging

Updated: Sep 5, 2019

We know that working out and staying physically active plays an important role in overall health. Hitting the gym just once a week or taking in some extra sunshine has been shown to have major impacts on mood and quality of life. But, what do we know about staying creatively fit? Surprisingly, a whole lot! We know that art elevates mood in a similar way as exercise and combats mental illness as well as promotes emotional healing and personal well-being. We also know that it can improve cognitive thinking skills, language development and academic performance in children and slows memory loss and improves brain function in older adults. We know that public art strengthens communities and brings people together.

Let's take a look at this study done by by Kumar B. Rajan, PhD, and Rekha S. Rajan, EdD, to analyze the health patterns of older Americans who engaged in the arts. An 8 year study to learn about how visual arts affected cognitive thinking and general health in older adults, 55 and older. He broke down the study into 4 different categories: Attending Art Classes, Creating Art, Both and Neither. His findings were surprising for all categories. Cognitive-function test scores among older adults who participated in both activity types (Creating Art and Attending Art) was more than seven times higher than the scores of people who did neither activity type. Those who participated in only Creating Art showed three-times higher cognitive scores than those who did neither and interestingly, the cognitive scores of those who participated in only Attending Art was slightly lower than those of older adults who participated in both Creating Art and Attending Art.

Reference: Health Patterns of Older Americans Who Participate in the Arts, pg. 21 & 22

Even more interesting were his findings on the links between art and physical function in older adults. He discovered that the more active older adults were in Creating Art, the less likely they were to have limitations in their daily living activities. Which means, that the more active in the arts they were, the more physically healthy they were. Rajan also conducted a study that showed significantly lower levels of hypertension in participants who engaged in art classes than those who did not participate at all.

Reference: Health Patterns of Older Americans Who Participate in the Arts, pg. 23

Additionally, there was an interesting finding on how older adults preferred to attend art classes in groups, as more than 90% attended classes with other people, such as family and friends. What we learn from this is that art helps bring people together and aids in community involvement and socialization. Another great reason to enroll in public art classes and programs.

Many senior centers and communities are beginning to recognize the importance of creativity and its links to better health and offer art classes as part of their ongoing activities like fitness, exercise and wellness programs. Today's senior communities and centers are much more than just a place to play bingo and cards. Quality senior centers have become hubs for socializing and activities. People are living a lot longer, with better quality of life than generations before. It's becoming more apparent than ever how important emotional health and mood is for the seniors in our community.

Help make art more available and accessible to our loved ones by reaching out to senior centers in your community and asking about the different types of programs they offer. There are many organizations and independent artists in your area that are there to help provide art classes. If you or your loved ones are already a member of a senior community, then you can inquire about the types of classes they offer or suggest adding them as part of their activity budget.

About On The Gogh Studio,

We are a community art event company with the mission to bring art to our community by making creativity more accessible and affordable. We offer special discounts for senior communities, learning centers and other underserved areas in the tri-county area.

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