"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Could visiting a museum be the key to a healthy life?

It's Saturday morning. You're barely awake, a cup of coffee in your hand, and your eyes wander to the window. it's raining. So you make up your mind. This afternoon, you'll go to a museum.

But what if, without realizing it, you simply made a great decision on your health?

This is presented by the hypothesis Association of French-Speaking Physicians of Canada In 2018, when it launched Museum Prescription Program In partnership with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The project, now complete, has enabled 1000's of patients to acquire a physician's prescription to go to the museum, either alone or accompanied. The purpose of the prescription was to advertise the recovery and well-being of patients with chronic diseases (hypertension, diabetes), neurological conditions, cognitive disorders or mental health problems. The decision to put in writing a prescription was left to the doctor's discretion.

Over five years, this groundbreaking initiative has inspired other modern projects. So we are actually seeing an increasing variety of museum-based wellness activities. Museum Yoga To Guided meditation Along with the practice of artworks Slow contemplation or “slow-looking.”

There isn't any shortage of possibilities, they usually all help reinforce the identical idea, that art is nice for us.

Beyond first impressions

These actions have recently made national media headlines on each side of the Atlantic. France And Canada, and gaining visibility amongst most people. Due to the recognition of those activities, an increasing number of claims are being made that visiting a museum can have “powerful anti-stress properties”, a “miracle cure for stress”, or other “incredible benefits”. .

Talk about excitement!

Yet, as a licensed neuroscientist, I can't help but wonder why, given the extraordinary relaxing effects which might be being claimed, crowds don't flock to our museums on daily basis.

And this provides us all of the more reason to have a look at the recently published scientific reports and studies on the topic.

Is art good for you? From intuition to remark

In 2019, the World Health Organization published an intensive report compiling evidence on the role of arts and cultural activities. In promoting health and wellness. The authors of this report sought to maneuver away from the grand claim that the advantages of art could possibly be a universal solution to health problems, as a type of home cure.

Instead, they provide recent, more nuanced approaches to the query, based on observations of psychological, physiological, and behavioral responses produced by certain specific components of artistic activity (aesthetic engagement, sensory stimulation, physical activity, etc.). Encourage accurate and rigorous practices.

Actor or Spectator?

What is special about visiting a museum is that it's a so-called acceptable artistic activity – in other words, it shouldn't be about producing art (painting, drawing, composing). However, it has the advantage of being accessible and already well established in our collective habits, making it a great candidate for health prevention.

The query is, is exposure to art enough to reap its advantages? In other words, does the easy fact of being involved with art have specific effects?

Can art exposure result in healthy aging?

Healthy consumers of culture

In England, the study checked out a sample of several thousand individuals who were monitored for long-term health indicators, and who were asked to report on their habits for 10 years. Cultural and artistic activities.

This study showed that folks who recurrently (every two or three months, or more) visited cultural sites (theaters, opera houses, museums, galleries) had a 50% lower risk of developing the disease. Is. Dementia And Mental stressand a 40 percent lower risk of developing Germline weakness syndrome (age-related decline in health and lack of functional independence).

Does this mean that art exposure can result in healthy aging?

Perhaps, but whether cultural inclusion accounts for the improvements in health markers seen in these studies stays to be confirmed. To do that, cohort studies and Randomized controlled trials are required. However, this kind of study is yet to be done.

Looking for energetic ingredients

One more query, and it's an enormous one! The query is

Why would art, and particularly visual art, be good for me? What happens in my body once I encounter a murals, and the way does this contact change me and help keep me healthy – if in any respect?

This query was asked by Michaela Law, a psychology researcher on the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and her colleagues in 2021. Reviewed the scientific literature. For a study of physiological responses to visual arts and its effects on self-reported stress.

Some of the studies cited in his work show that exposure to artwork can lower blood pressure, heart rate and salivary cortisol. Such changes indicate a decrease within the body's immune state, also often called stress. This change is felt by the person, which is reflected within the reduction in stress they feel after exposure.

On the opposite hand, other studies have seen no effect.

Therefore, if exposure to visual art is prone to provide physical and psychological relief for viewers, it shouldn't be a sufficient condition for improved health.

This result invites us to attract our own conclusions and consider more deeply what happens when confronted with a task that will have an effect on a person's psychology.

Today is Saturday…

You have decided that you're going to the museum.

This decision is prone to be good on your health.

It also relies on the museum you select, and the way you see it.

One thing's needless to say, though: visiting a museum means you'll have a a lot better likelihood of getting an incredible day!