Finding 10: Health

People who take part in the arts are 38% more likely to report good health 

A Scottish study found that people who had participated in a creative or cultural activity were 38% more likely to report good health compared to those who did not; and for those who participated in dance, the figure rises to 62% (Leadbetter & O’Connor, 2013).

Nordic data found that people who visited cinemas, art exhibitions, museums or concerts, compared with those who rarely visited, had a lower mortality risk (Konlaan, 2000). Italian data shows that cultural access is the second most important determinant of wellbeing, above factors including occupation, age, income and education (Grossi, 2010 & 2012).

Different types of art activities increase different elements of health and wellbeing. Dance improves the physical health of participants, in particular teenage girls who are not engaging in other physical activity (Connolly et al, 2011). Shared reading has been found to improve an individual’s sense of purpose. Theatre and drama improve young people’s social skills and emotional wellbeing. We also know that engaging in the arts increases young people’s resilience – a key component of good mental health. 


Connolly, M.K., Quinn, E. and Redding, E. ‘Dance 4 your life: exploring the health and well-being implications of
a contemporary dance intervention for female adolescents’ Research in Dance Education 2011, 12(1), pp.53–66 

Grossi, E. et al. ‘The impact of culture on the individual subjective well-being of the Italian population: an exploratory study’ Applied Research in Quality of Life 2010, 6(4) pp.387–410 

Grossi, E., et al. ‘The Interaction Between Culture, Health and Psychological Well-Being: Data Mining from the Italian Culture and Well-Being Project.’ Journal of Happiness Studies 2012 13: 129-148.

Konlaan, B. et al. ‘Visiting the cinema, concerts, museums or art exhibitions as determinant of survival: a Swedish fourteen-year cohort follow-up’ Scandinavian Journal of Public Health 2000, 28 pp.174–178 

Leadbetter, C. and O’Connor, N. Healthy Attendance? The Impact of Cultural Engagement and Sports Participation on Health and Satisfaction with Life in Scotland (Scottish Government Social Research, 2013)