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Creative Health



It is well known that an active, healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet can enhance wellbeing, but how many of us are looking after our creative health?

How the arts can support your wellbeing

This video shows how simple creative activities can have benefits for personal wellbeing.


Here are some of the ways arts and creative activities can enhance health and wellbeing:

  • The arts involve hearing, seeing, touching and moving so they activate a wide range of brain areas.[1]
  • Learning a musical instrument can enhance brain plasticity and enlarge certain brain areas too [2]
  • The arts can improve cognition and memory [3]
  • Singing can enhance lung function [4]
  • Dance can lead to lower heart rate and better oxygen uptake [5]
  • Listening to music can reduce blood pressure and stress hormones [6]
  • Dance can increase bone mineral density and support balance and gait [7]
  • Arts engagement can reduce levels of perceived pain [8]
  • Engaging with culture can reduce depression and enhance wellbeing [9]
  • Arts can enhance feelings of mastery, self-belief and self esteem [10]
  • Engaging with the arts can reduce loneliness and increase social support [11]
  • The arts can foster group cohesion and social identity [12]
  • Arts can enhance social resilience [13].



[ 1] Levitin DJ, Tirovolas AK. Current Advances in the Cognitive Neuroscience of Music. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Mar 1;1156(1):211–31.
[ 2] Wan CY, Schlaug G. Music Making as a Tool for Promoting Brain Plasticity across the Life Span. The Neuroscientist. 2010 Oct 1;16(5):566–77.
[3] Zhao TC, Kuhl PK. Musical intervention enhances infants’ neural processing of temporal structure in music and speech. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2016 May 10;113(19):5212–7. | Jansen P, Richter S. Effects of a One-Hour Creative Dance Training on Mental Rotation Performance in Primary School Aged Children. Int J Learn Teach Educ Res [Internet]. 2015 Nov 18 [cited 2016 Nov 18];13(4). Available from:
[4] Panigrahi A, Sohani S, Amadi C, Joshi A. Role of music in the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): a literature review. Technol Health Care Off J Eur Soc Eng Med. 2014;22(1):53–61.
[5] Angelis MD, Vinciguerra G, Gasbarri A, Pacitti C. Oxygen uptake, heart rate and blood lactate concentration during a normal training session of an aerobic dance class. Eur J Appl Physiol. 78(2):121–7.
[ 6] Iwanaga M, Kobayashi A, Kawasaki C. Heart rate variability with repetitive exposure to music. Biol Psychol. 2005 Sep;70(1):61–6. | Fancourt D, Ockelford A, Belai A. The psychoneuroimmunological effects of music: A systematic review and a new model. Brain Behav Immun. 2014 Feb;36:15–26.
[ 7] Kudlacek S, Pietschmann F, Bernecker P, Resch H, Willvonseder R. The impact of a senior dancing program on spinal and peripheral bone mass. Am J Phys Med Rehabil Assoc Acad Physiatr. 1997 Dec;76(6):477–81. | Plante TG, Gustafson C, Brecht C, Imberi J, Sanchez J. Exercising with an iPod, Friend, or Neither: Which is Better for Psychological Benefits? Am J Health Behav. 2011 Mar 1;35(2):199–208.
[ 8] Nilsson U. The anxiety- and pain-reducing effects of music interventions: a systematic review. AORN J. 2008 Apr;87(4):780–807.
[ 9] Cuypers K, Krokstad S, Holmen TL, Knudtsen MS, Bygren LO, Holmen J. Patterns of receptive and creative cultural activities and their association with perceived health, anxiety, depression and satisfaction with life among adults: the HUNT study, Norway. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2011 May 23;jech.2010.113571.
[ 10] Franklin M. Art Therapy and Self-Esteem. Art Ther. 1992 Apr 1;9(2):78–84.
[ 11] Tarr B, Launay J, Dunbar RIM. Music and social bonding: ‘self-other’ merging and neurohormonal mechanisms. Front Psychol [Internet]. 2014 Sep 30 [cited 2015 Apr 28];5. Available from: | Karkou V, Glasman J. Arts, education and society: the role of the arts in promoting the emotional wellbeing and social inclusion of young people. Support Learn. 2004 May 1;19(2):57–65.
[ 12] Lee D. How the Arts Generate Social Capital to Foster Intergroup Social Cohesion. J Arts Manag Law Soc. 2013 Jan 1;43(1):4–17.
[ 13] Harrison K. ‘Singing my Spirit of Identity’: Aboriginal Music for Well-being in a Canadian Inner City. MUSICultures [Internet]. 2013 Feb 11 [cited 2016 Oct 17];36(0). Available from: