It’s London theatre month and to celebrate all things theatrical, we teamed up with Professor Daniel Richardson from University College London to study the benefits of live theatre. We commissioned Professor Richardson to see whether there are any positive links between attending a live performance and improved health as we age. We were not surprised by the results.
The key takeaways from the study are:
• People over the age of 50 who engage in cultural activities (like going to the theatre) are 30% less likely to become dependent past the age of 80 (Rogers & Fancourt, 2019)
• Attending live performances has proved to support balance, gait and reduce risk of chronic pain in over 50’s (Fancourt & Steptoe, 2018)
• People who engage in cultural activities every few months reduce their risk of developing depression by a third (Fancourt & Tymoszuk, 2018)
You can read the full study (PDF)
The benefits are clear, engagement in live performances has a distinct and measurable beneficial effect on the physical, emotional and social well-being of audience members, especially those over the age of 50. There’s also another well-known benefit of seeing a live show – it’s the perfect remedy for boredom.
There are so many shows to see across London that you’d be hard pressed to see them all. Plus, there’s something for everybody: Les Miserables for fans of the classics, Only Fools and Horses: The Musical for those in search of a laugh, and for the fans of camp there’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. In fact, there’s even something for the gym junkies. A recent study by Richardson, Hogan, Nuttall & Devlin’s (2017) showed that seeing a live performance can be the equivalent to an average of 28 minutes of an elevated heart rate – comparable to a mild workout.
Another big benefit of attending a live performance is the social aspect; Professor Richardson had this to say, “Going to the theatre, therefore, means engaging with a large number of other people sharing an experience and quite possibly synchronising autonomic activity. As such, these types of cultural engagements are inherently social, and studies have shown that experiencing them regularly does reduce reported loneliness… Loneliness is a key determinate of mental and physical health, especially in the aging population.”
We live in an inherently digital world and sharing cultural experiences is one of the key ways we can reconnect with each other socially. Live performances can have a huge impact on both physical and mental well-being. The simplicity of a live show means it’s accessible to everyone regardless of age. The West End is the perfect place to sit back, relax and enjoy a little bit of culture with a lot of wonderful health benefits.
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Past events, real people and true stories, we take a look through the current plays and musicals based on historical & real life events.
Read more about our study with UCL which shows that attending a live performance has an impact on cardiovascular activity
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