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Enjoy the Arts to Increase Wellness

Autumn always heralds the new season for performing arts, as culture lovers flock to the ballet, theater and symphony. Like or loathe such activities — you’ll enjoy wellness benefits just by showing up, new research suggests.

While previous studies have indicated lower risk of dementia among those who engaged in active “brain exercise” — such as playing board games, doing puzzles, or learning other languages — researchers were interested in the impact of more “receptive” pursuits, such as watching a play or perusing new art exhibits. To investigate, Norwegian scientists looked at lifestyle data for roughly 50,000 men and women of all ages, comparing these to questionnaires aimed at gauging levels of anxiety, depression, life satisfaction, etc. Interestingly, those who favored more “receptive” activities reaped similar wellness rewards to those who engaged in more active pursuits (e.g., volunteering, joining clubs, outdoor activities). Men in particular lowered anxiety by enjoying the arts.

In addition to elevating your soul — don’t neglect to elevate your heart rate, as physical exercise can actually increase the size of the brain, countering the natural cerebral shrinkage that occurs with age. Vary activities to increase mental sharpness — and include dancing in the mix, as it may offer a 76% reduction in dementia risk, according to research. To help protect against memory decline, also try:

Published September 1, 2012

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