Is soaking up culture the key to health and happiness?

June 7, 2011

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.


Did your country make the cut?

January 13, 2010

The Quality of Life Index, published by International Living magazine for the 30th year, recently revealed its list of the top places to live in the world. Congratulations to France for grabbing the number one spot for the fifth year in a row. The UK didn’t fare quite as well, falling five spots to number 25 on the list. The Daily Mail says it best: “While the British are infamous for a love of TV dinners and binge drinking, the French savour the finer things in life.”

194 countries were surveyed on nine categories – Cost of Living, Culture and Leisure, Economy, Environment, Freedom, Health, Infrastructure, Safety and Risk and Climate. International Living gathers data from sources such as the World Health Organization and government websites; however, according to the website they also take into account what contributing editors have to say about the list. Well at least they flat out state their subjectivity in an appropriately titled sidebar called “Our Western Bias”.

France managed to receive 100 points for both its health care system and safety according to the International Business Times. They totaled 81 points in Culture and Leisure, proving that good food and good wine equal big points. The U.S. fell to number seven this year, mostly due to the economy. Italy rounds out the top ten, getting points for their health care system and rich culture. Here is a look at the top ten:

  1. France
  2. Australia
  3. Switzerland
  4. Germany
  5. New Zealand
  6. Luxembourg
  7. United States
  8. Belgium
  9. Canada
  10. Italy

You can click here to see the top 25 places to live.


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