Aging Well: The Health Benefits of Creativity

Man playing chess
September 14th, 2022

Creativity isn’t just fun – it’s good for our physical and mental health!

Participating in creative pursuits — exploring new possibilities and making new things – helps us maintain mental flexibility, improve our physical health, handle life’s challenges, and strengthen social relationships.

Pro Tip: Don’t think you’re creative? Wrong! Everyone is creative in our own way. Expand the way you think about creativity, and you’ll see yourself differently.

Creativity Isn’t Just the Arts

We have many options for creative expression beyond the arts. Creativity is expressed in many ways, including:

  • Bodily/Kinesthetic. Exercising, walking, golfing, biking, taking yoga or Pilates classes, swimming, dancing, taking acting classes, or performing in a play
  • Reading, journaling, meditating, recording, or writing a personal history or memoir
  • Logical/Mathematical.Doing puzzles, Sudoku and brainteasers; cooking, organizing a collection, playing strategy games or cards
  • Learning (or relearning) to play an instrument, attending a concert, singing, listening to music
  • Being in nature, forest-bathing, collecting rocks or shells, gardening, bird-watching
  • Social/Interpersonal.Starting or joining a discussion group, getting together regularly with friends, joining a league or club, video-chatting regularly with family or friends
  • Drawing, painting, photography, sculpting, scrapbooking, taking art classes, making cards, designing a garden, arranging flowers
  • Verbal/Linguistic.Telling stories, writing, participating in a book club or writing group

Pro Tip: Not sure where to start? Think about activities you enjoyed in school or earlier in adulthood that you might return to now. Explore resources at the local community center or faith community. Find apps that enable you to be creative in the digital realm.

Three Benefits of Creativity

1. Cognitive benefits

Participating in creative activities helps keep our brains agile and active.

2. Physical benefits

People who participate in creative endeavors may experience better physical health. A landmark study from the National Endowment for the Arts found that older adults participating in creative arts programs had fewer visits to the doctor and fewer falls than the study group who did not participate. They also took fewer prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Other research shows that creative expression can calm our autonomic nervous systems, stabilize our heart rates and hormone levels, and stimulate the release of endorphins.

3. Emotional benefits

The NEA research also indicated several mental health benefits, including lower anxiety, higher life satisfaction and morale, and less depression and isolation. When we do something creative, we feel empowered and accomplished.

Pro Tip: Want to amplify the benefits? Invite a friend or family member to participate with you.

You don’t have to be an oil painter or aria singer to live a more creative life. Revisit the ways you used to be creative and explore new opportunities for creative self-expression. The benefits cans help you age well and live a happier life.

Don’t disregard professional medical advice, or delay seeking it, because of what you read here. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment; it is provided “as is” without any representations or warranties, express or implied. Always consult a healthcare provider if you have specific questions about any medical matter, and seek professional attention immediately if you think you or someone in your care may be experiencing a healthcare condition or medical emergency.