Culture and Health

Receptive and participatory arts engagement and healthy aging

Longitudinal evidence from the Health and Retirement Study

Artistic endeavour is associated with prolonged longevity, but it is unclear whether it is also associated with an increase in the lifespan of people who remain healthy. The study included 1269 older adults from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a longitudinal study of individuals aged 50 years and older in the United States. The number of participatory arts activities performed (e.g., crafts, dance) and the frequency of receptive arts engagement (e.g., going to a gallery or show) over a one-year period was analysed. Performing arts activities once or more per month was associated with higher probability (by 84%) of healthy ageing two years later compared to those who never participated. Weak evidence was also found that this association is maintained over time. Expanding on previous studies that have suggested that receptive artistic engagement is correlated with prolonged longevity, the study results suggest that receptive artistic engagement may also be associated with better overall health and function in those who survive.