A Happy Heart is a Lovely Heart

Art is powerful. It has the power to inspire, delight, uplift, and encourage. But, much like an infomercial, that isn't all!!! Did you know that art even has the opportunity to boost your heart health and help you stay in shape? Whaaaa? Yes! Well, it takes some customization to your thoughts about art, but simple things like incorporating art into your fitness routine can feed your creative soul at the same time as getting your heart pumping. You might be thinking "but how can looking at paintings, sculptures, or even digital art help my heart health?" The answer lies in the epic combination of art and movement. For example, a leisurely stroll through an art gallery, museum, or even a local park can push your heart rate up while allowing you to appreciate your surroundings, which, with intention, can include art!

happy heart health diagram

Appreciating Art… for the Heart!

When it comes to heart health, everyone can use some help. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death, so anything that can reduce that risk is a win. Now, you might be thinking, “but how can art help me with that?”

Engaging with art in any capacity has proven to reduce blood pressure, eliminate stress, and provide relief for people all over the world. Whether you’re creating art or just taking it in, mental and physical benefits are just a canvas away. According to a study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine, participants who spent time in an art gallery showed a significant decrease in cortisol levels, a hormone associated with stress. Another study found that art therapy helped to reduce symptoms of anxiety in breast cancer patients undergoing treatment. Art helps us enter a state of mindfulness and relaxation, which is very helpful in reducing stress and anxiety.

Improving Mood and Mental Health

In another study, published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, participants who had art in their lives reported feeling more positive emotions and increased life satisfaction. Art therapy has been proven to be an effective treatment for depression. There is a reason that many chemotherapy facilities utilize guided art practice to engage with patients. It helps! The emotional connection to expression and creativity is opened up by art of all types.

If you’ve not been to a gallery or a park with an open art installation, you may not realize the social and community benefits to hangin’ around art as well. Many studies have found that social interaction increases dopamine production in the brain, which means that just being near art is good for the heart, rhyme intended. 

Engaging with other people around art builds stronger connections, relationships, and sense of belonging. 

Your Daily Routine

Incorporating physical activity into our daily routines is essential for maintaining good heart health. For many, though, exercise can feel like a chore. Fortunately, there are ways to combine art appreciation and fitness, making exercise fun, engaging, and heart-healthy!

One way to combine art appreciation and fitness is by walking through art galleries and museums. Interestingly enough, many museums and galleries offer free admission or discounted rates on certain days, making it accessible to nearly everyone. Strolling through buildings whilst perusing the art contained within is exercise. So, it’s a true double dip. Enjoy the art, benefit the heart. There’s a trend here. 

To maximize your daily routine, plan out which museums, galleries, or gardens make sense for your schedule and location, and drop those locations into Google Maps (no affiliation, just the best service for it). If you live in a cool city, these types of things are typically close together, so your entire journey can be great for your heart, not just the time directly in front of the art. Of course, if you’re really looking to ramp things up, you can always take the stairs when available, or take the longer route, adding steps. 

You’ll find it easy to reach 10,000 steps in any day that includes a few museums, galleries, or gardens. 

Parks and Yoga, Too

Do your best to not leave parks out of this flow. Parks have some of the greatest scenery in any place, anywhere. As you walk around these wonderful civic playgrounds, keep in mind that many have fountains, sculptures, and much more. Many parks install amazing things to improve the experience. Take advantage! 

There are other fitness activities that have an artistic flow. Yoga and meditation classes with an artistic ambiance, such as in a studio with beautiful murals or sculptures, can provide both physical and mental benefits. Outdoor art installations that incorporate movement, such as interactive sculptures that require physical activity, can be a fun and unique way to combine art appreciation and fitness.

March 06, 2023 by Craig Brooks