A new report by an all-party parliamentary group showed the arts can play a significant role in physical and mental well-being.
But what’s that got to do with being active? Well, more than you might think.
The report brought together two years’ worth of evidence from across a range of art projects. It looked at the effect these had on the communities and as a result recommended more should be set up. After six months, patients had 37% less demand for doctors’ appointments and their hospital admissions fell by 27%.
Some of this was based on more active arts such as dance but others involved less physical activity such as drawing and painting.
Our work in different communities has shown that helping someone become more active doesn’t always have to be as direct and rigid as signposting them to an exercise class or sports club.
Starting something like an art class, or any other hobby, can be the catalyst in a chain of small changes to a person’s life. That person might be able to incorporate walking into their journey to the class. They might make new friends and widen their social calendar which will inevitably increase their activity levels. It might improve their confidence so they are able to take on other hobbies and classes.
A few months ago we met up with a charity in Leeds who told us a story of two men who struck up a friendship and started walking to the local shop to get their morning paper together. That snowballed into picking up and delivering newspapers to other neighbours as well. It sounds like a small thing but those small changes and those small connections can make a big difference to someone’s life.