The benefits of arts, culture and physical activity

Author
Sarah Morland Partnership Manager
Article date
8 May 2019
Primary interest
Health
Many of you will be aware of Arts on Prescription, Museums on Prescription, and Exercise on Prescription. These are all initiatives designed to support and improve our health and wellbeing. Two local events last week gave some of the evidence of how physical activity, arts and culture can benefit us.
Physical activity in Social Prescribing

On Wednesday, the Get Berkshire Active Sport and Physical Activity Network (SPAN) focused on physical activity in Social Prescribing. Dr William Bird, a local GP and CEO of Intelligent Health gave the keynote speech and talked about the ‘triple strength’ of going for a walk – exercise, nature and companionship. We are programmed to be in a sociable group, with a supportive environment and have a purpose, but many people experience loneliness, hostility and rejection, which can lead to fear and chronic stress.

Chronic stress, can enhance the risk of long term health conditions such as cardio-vascular disease, while lonely people can be less physically active, and experience more pain, depression, fatigue and poor health. Dr Bird argues that we need to have more community-based activity happening everywhere and ‘we need lots of people becoming activity leaders themselves’. Being more active can increase confidence, lead to greater concentration, less illness and greater contentment (as well as better behaviour).

Creative Health: the arts for health and wellbeing

On Thursday, there was an event on Creative Health: the arts for health and wellbeing. Lord Howarth of Newport, co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing, summarised the report from the APPG inquiry.

It has 10 high-level recommendations including that Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) should  ensure that arts and cultural organisations are involved in the delivery of health and wellbeing at regional and local level. We heard about measuring the impact of Museums on Prescription in Kent, Music in Mind and Rythmix, a music project for young people with mental health issues, and Stroke Odysseys which offers creative sessions for stroke survivors.