Why Admiring Art Is Good For Your Health
For many centuries the mental health benefits of art and the power it has on your mind and body when gazing at great art, has been talked about. Studies in recent years, including experiments conducted in Italy, have shown that those people who enjoy art and take time to stroll and gaze at great art, are likely to see a physical improvement in their health, as well as finding it to be uplifting in terms of their mental health. It is with findings like that, that you now find art to be viewed as a vital component within all walks of life, from cultural hotspots in urban areas, to art exhibitions in the workplace.
The experiment mentioned took on board 100 volunteers, who were led to the cupola of the vast Basilica of Vicoforte near the town of Cuneo, in Piedmont, northern Italy. They were then given two hours to wander and admire the 18th century fresco, with all of the delights included. The Basilica is home to the largest elliptical cupola in the entire world and welcomes a large number of Catholic pilgrims each year. Before making their way up the 240 steps to the top of the church, the volunteers were each asked to provide a sample of their saliva in order to check cortisol levels.
Cortisol responds to stress, and it was discovered that the saliva analysed after the viewing experience of two hours displayed a dramatically lower level of cortisol than that collected prior to the viewing of the fresco. This suggests that the art on show had a massive effect on calming the volunteers, having a positive impact on both their mental and physical health as a result. The volunteers comprised of a wide mix of people. They were aged between 19 and 81, had varying educational levels and were both male and female. For the viewing of the cupola they were provided with helmets and climbing harnesses to get up close to the art, which is around 200ft off the ground.
Professor Enzo Grossi studies culture and art, and the impact it can have on physical health. He said about the research, "On average, we found that cortisol levels dropped by 60 per cent and that more than 90 per cent of the participants said they felt much better at the end of the experience. The idea of art as therapy is not new. But this is the first time that the beneficial effect of art on health has been measured."
Art has the power to achieve great things and in the right settings it can be used as a way of improving the mental and physical health of patients in a medical setting, for those recuperating from illness or injury. It can also help in everyday situations such as calming customers and taking them on a journey with a company brand and story, or as a way of boosting the morale (and therefore the productivity) of employees with well-placed art in a work setting.
Content written by William Gough