ArtPrize 2014: How Engaging with Art Can Improve Health

Julie Bitely

| 2 min read

Art health
With ArtPrize in full swing in Grand Rapids through October 12, we thought it was prime time to explore the connections between art and health.
Turns out, there’s plenty of research indicating that art could have many benefits when it comes to general wellbeing, illness management, and healthcare.
For starters, engaging in art, either as a viewer or creator, can enhance your mood and emotional state in a positive way. It also exercises your mind by forcing you to make connections and interpretations of the art you’re seeing or creating.
According to a field report by Americans for the Arts, nearly half of the healthcare institutions in the United States have some form of art programming, whether it’s a permanent display of public art, performances, or bedside activities.
Art therapy programs are increasingly used in healthcare settings to improve health outcomes in treating conditions such as autism, Alzheimer’s, post-traumatic stress disorder, and a wide range of chronic illnesses. Some studies have shown that patients who participate in arts programs require fewer doctor visits and less medication. Additional research shows programs may help shorten hospital stays and result in fewer complications.
Creating art has been shown to be an effective pain management technique. It can also provide a vehicle for a patient to express emotions or feelings about their diagnosis that they can’t otherwise put into words. The act of painting, drawing, or engaging in other forms of artistic expression can reduce stress and take a patient’s mind off their condition.
While a lot of the research out there is qualitative, art and the impact it has on health definitely deserves attention and further study. For now, a trip to ArtPrize or your local arts supply store can’t hurt, and may even be doing your health a favor!
Photo credit: Sarah

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