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In a landmark 2014 report titled “Staying Engaged: Health Patterns of Older Americans Who Participate in the Arts,” the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) analyzed data from the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative sample of adults aged 55 and older who are tracked longitudinally.

The study documented that older adults who both created art and attended arts events reported higher cognitive functioning and lower rates of both hypertension and limitations to their physical functioning than their counterparts who were not involved in the arts.

And even older adults who frequented arts events, but did not create art of their own, enjoyed health advantages over their contemporaries who did not create or attend art.

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