Is soaking up culture the key to health and happiness?

The answer may be yes, particularly if you live in Norway. A study examining 50,797 Norwegian men and women found that those who participated in cultural activities were more likely to report being satisfied with their lives and in good health.

The participants were questioned on their participation in two cultural fields. “Receptive culture” includes activities such as visiting museums and attending concerts. “Creative culture” refers to engaging in an activity, such as playing in a band or singing.

The happiness inducing activities were slightly different for men and women. Women who participated in creative cultural activities were more likely to report being in good health and satisfied with life. Meanwhile, men who participated in any receptive cultural activity were more likely to perceive themselves as being in good health.

The study found the more cultural activities, the better. 91 percent of those who participated in at least four activities reported being satisfied with their lives, TIME reports.

The Los Angeles Times points out that people with higher incomes are more likely to participate in cultural activities and those with higher incomes are more likely to be healthy; however, the researchers believe they have found an association between participation in cultural activities and health that is independent of socioeconomic status. Additional research is necessary to prove whether a causal relationship exists.

The study is published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

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