Men who enjoy taking in the ballet or browsing art museums are more likely to be happy with their lives and satisfied with their health than men who don’t enjoy the finer things in life, a new study finds.

And although greater enjoyment of cultural activities is associated with higher income, the arts have a beneficial effect regardless of other factors that might influence health and happiness, including socioeconomic status.

The results suggest that encouraging cultural participation may be one way to encourage healthfulness, the authors reported online May 23 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

“There has been a focus on physical activity as an instrument to promote good healht in the last decades, but who is sure that all people are equally capable of doing five days a week of intensive training?” said study author Koenraad Cuypers of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in an email to LiveScience. “I doubt it! Studies suggest that 50 percent of leisure time is spent in other activities than physical activity, so we aimed at investigating whether participation in cultural activities would also be asociated with good health/good satisfaction with life/low anxiety and depression.

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