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The Physical Benefits of Art

Did you know that rippling eight-pack abs are one of the physical benefits of art? 

Okay. They’re not. That was a blatant lie.

In previous posts, we explored the mental benefits that doing and viewing art delivers. For the more inquiring among us, it may just beg the question: 

Are There Physical Benefits of Art?

Tight and toned abs notwithstanding, it appears that there ARE physical benefits of art. So much so that rather than asking how much exercise you’re getting or what you’re eating, they should be asking about how much art you’ve created or how frequently you engage in self-expression.

Because according to numerous studies, our immune systems benefit from creative expression. The creation of art is proven to elevate mood, reduce stress, and lower blood pressure. And exposing hospital patients to art helps them to heal quicker and have better outcomes – both mental and physical.

It’s also hugely beneficial for those struggling with the burden of chronic disease. This is because engaging in a creative activity decreases the anxiety and depression that often accompany chronic illness. Using their imaginations helps them to connect more deeply with themselves and leads toward healing.

Creating art can also serve as preventative medicine. When involved in the artistic process, we feel a deep sense of meditation and being in the moment. We become problem solvers and value creation over consumerism. In a nutshell, making art leaves us feeling happier, more resilient, and boosts our confidence. All of these qualities keep the mind and body strong to ward off disease.

What the Studies Say…

But don’t take our word for it.

Check this out. According to the results of a randomized trial, patients receiving HIV treatment experienced a boost to their immune systems (and an increase in their CD4+ lymphocyte count) when engaged in expressive writing.

Other studies bear this out. 

For trauma survivors, writing about their experiences results in significant improvements in various measures of health as well as fewer visits to the doctor.

And writing is shown to help with chronic pain management. Folks dealing with chronic pain who regularly write out their angry feelings tended to report a greater decline in pain severity over a nine-month period. 

Calming the Savage Beast

Just as with writing, listening to music is linked to improved immune functioning and an increase in CD4+ lymphocytes. These lymphocytes are the primary targets of immunodeficiency viruses. Music therapy is often used to boost the immune system for this reason. 

But music also stimulates the limbic system which is responsible for how we handle stress. It can also restore function to the amygdala and hypothalamus regions of the brain. These areas are key in mood regulation, inflammatory responses, and hormonal processes. 

Let’s Dance

Then of course there are the art forms that require actual physical exertion. Acting and playing certain instruments are certainly in this domain. But then there’s dance.

Dance is probably the most physically demanding of the arts. And we’re not just talking about dance as in ‘professional ballet dancer’. Any sort of free movement that allows the body to move in an unrestricted fashion is healthy. It also releases trauma while increasing cardiovascular activity. 

Dance-type fitness classes such as Zumba have become wildly popular. And research around the classes shows that they not only improve blood pressure and triglyceride levels but also contribute to healthy weight management.

A similar Korean study done in 2007 studied the impact of hip-hop dance in tandem with aerobic dancing. Participants were not only more psychologically boosted, but they also reported lower levels of fatigue. It turns out dance is all of that AND a cup of coffee. 

Boost Your Creative Child’s Health With a Steady Diet of Art

Everyone stands to gain from the emotional and physical benefits of art. 

But for children who are very creative and not getting what they need from conventional schooling, it’s especially important they have ample access to creating and viewing art. 

If this sounds like your child, contact us today to request a tour of our school. Our arts academy middle school and high school offer an extensive range of art classes as well as arts-integrated academic classes to keep creative souls interested, engaged, and healthy. 


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