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Appreciating Art Is Good For Your Heart: 4 Ideas To Help You Love The Arts

Are you someone who enjoys the arts – music, paintings, or theater? A new study presented at the 12th Annual Spring Meeting on Cardiovascular Nursing in Copenhagen Denmark, showed that patients who had an appreciation for the arts recovered better from heart disease than those who did not. This particular research focused on stroke patients, and it found that “stroke survivors who saw art as an integrated part of their former lifestyle, by expressing appreciation towards music, painting and theatre, showed better recovery skills than those who did not,” according to the study’s lead author, Dr. Ercole Vellone.

Dr. Vellone’s study separated into two groups the stroke patients who had an appreciation for the arts from the patients who did not. Overwhelmingly, the art appreciators were better at healing and improving – they had better general health, found it easier to walk, and had more energy. Dr. Vellone’s understanding is that art may make long term changes to the brain that actually help it recover when things go wrong.

So what does this mean for you? Even if you are not into ballet or opera, there are many ways you can uncover your interests in the extensive range of activities that art encompasses. If you’re looking for something new to do on a Saturday night, why not broaden your artistic horizons? Use this guide, based on your current interests, to see which areas of the arts might interest you as well.

If you like listening to the music – You probably have a favorite radio station or two, or maybe a few favorite artists you depend on to lift your mood. If so, that’s great! But you can do more. Have you ever thought about trying a whole different genre of music? Don’t rule it out before you give it a chance. I, for one, have never been a fan of country music, but just last night I heard Lionel Richie (popular in the ’80s) has a new CD coming out, and it’s made up entirely of country music stars (including Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, and Kenny Chesney) joining Richie to sing their favorite song of his with him. Interesting idea, huh? The album is called Tuskegee, and I think it just might make me give country music a chance (if just this once)! Is there any genre of music you might be willing to try – maybe just once?

If you like cooking – Why not take a baking class? Better yet, how about learning about cake decorating? Cooking and baking are creative processes in their own right – you are assembling ingredients to create a final product. But if you can incorporate decorating into your masterpieces too, you will be adding a little art into your life. If you’re looking for a place to start, there’s a book called Contemporary Cake Decorator’s Bible: Over 150 Techniques and 80 Stunning Projects that has tons of photos and also includes detailed instructions that are easy to follow.

If the only thing you can draw is stick people – That’s me! My mom has an incredible talent for drawing, as does my sister – but the gene skipped me completely. If you can’t draw but think you might like to learn, you have some options. Many art museums offer drawing classes on weekends. Some city recreational departments do too. You can also check local art associations and community colleges for classes.

If you don’t think an art class is your thing, even periodic visits to an art museum can help bring out your appreciation of art. You might not be able to draw, but you can probably appreciate people who can! There’s a lot more to art museums today than ancient paintings that are boring and stuffy. Check online for  your local modern art museum, or even look for galleries that feature a specific type of art you might like – ceramics, photography, glass – art is limitless, and finding something that interests you can be the beginning of a long term hobby of your own.

If you’re a fashionista – Fashion design is an area that is often overlooked in the world of art, but I find it endlessly fascinating. If you enjoy the latest trends or like to put together fun ensembles, try doing some reading about fashion history. There’s a wonderful two-book set of fashion history books called Fashion (Taschen 25th Anniversary) by the Kyoto Costume Institute that will keep you entranced for hours. Better yet, if you can find a fashion museum in your city, nothing beats seeing these works of art up close. It’s all about taking an art-related curiosity one step further.

I hope this gave you some inspiration to start looking for – and appreciating – the art around you. Dr. Vellone’s study led him to understand that art appreciation leads to better quality of life overall, and that’s something we can all appreciate!

What kind of art do you enjoy most? In what ways do you nurture that interest? I’d love to hear from you in the comments, and you can also find me at @onemoveforward on twitter!