Doing This One Thing on a Monthly Basis Could Help You Live 10 Years Longer, According to Research

It’s a standard goal: live as long as you can and get the most out of your life while living it. Although this ambition is shared amongst basically everyone in the human race, there are several factors that come into play when aiming to increase longevity. For instance, good relationships can lengthen our lives. Flossing has more of a longevity impact than one might think. Taking vitamin D is key for those over 50 who want to live their longest possible lives.

While many longevity habits are done out of a “this is healthy for me, so I have to do it” mentality, there are some life-lengthening practices that are actually pleasurable, even fun, to do. Ahead, we’ll reveal an enjoyable type of activity that, according to studies, could help you live up to 10 years longer.

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Doing This One Thing on a Monthly Basis Could Help You Live 10 Years Longer

As CNN recently reported, art experiences, even if you’re not creating and you’re only admiring, can increase longevity. It’s something that’s been proven through scientific research, which has discovered that art activities can literally change the wiring of our brains, resulting in feel-good chemicals that can improve our general outlooks and emotional well-being, things that can aid in adding years to our lives.

“It makes sense both from a neuroscience and a practical standpoint—any activity that allows our brain to enter into a low-stress or low cortisol-producing state can have positive impacts on our brain chemistry, resulting in improved health outcomes,” says Dr. Jen Dunphy, MD, Doctor of Public Health and an expert on longevity.

She adds that doing arts activities is comparable to meditation since meditation can produce many of the same effects. “These types of parasympathetic stimulating activities allow our brain to rest, and produce chemicals such as dopamine (our brain’s reward system) that can help our body cope with biological and emotional stress,” she says.

Alexis Steefel, Registered and Board Certified Art Therapist with Four Diamonds at Penn State Health Children's Hospital has seen the power of arts activities firsthand. She works with pediatric hematology and oncology patients, and says, “I witness some of the tremendous benefits regular participation in arts activities has during a cancer journey. As such, I am pleased to hear that others are now seeing how it can be beneficial for one’s health regardless of any medical diagnosis they may be facing.”

Steefel goes on to say that it’s no wonder that when we nurture the needs of our heart and mind, it has lasting impacts on other areas of our physical health.

“Dedicating time for yourself, and learning more about yourself over time and your abilities through the creative process, can teach you skills for navigating life’s experiences well beyond the pages of a sketchbook,” she reflects.

Dr. Dunphy does warn that the benefits that can be experienced through arts activities are dependent upon the individual. In that case, it would be helpful to discover other healthy activities that can engage the brain in a positive way.

“Some people may find art stressful, in which case spending time with close friends or taking a walk might be more beneficial,” Dr. Dunphy points out. For those who do feel the benefits of doing arts activities, Dr. Dunphy says that once a month, the minimum timeframe landed upon through research, is great, “but I would recommend at least a longer (60 minute) weekly activity and a short (20 minute) daily activity that allows the brain to get into a mode where it is producing beneficial chemicals and activating the parasympathetic nervous system.”

Steefel notes that to truly harness the benefits, it might be helpful to work directly with a registered and board-certified art therapist. “They will offer guidance and support in a creative journey that focuses on getting to know yourself more,” she says. “It takes art making to a more personal level, rather than participating in art making as a meaningful leisure activity.” People of any age can participate in art therapy.

Additionally, keep in mind that arts activities on their own won’t guarantee longevity. It’s also key to pay attention to your diet and getting in regular exercise.

Related: People Who Live Longer Eat These Specific Foods, According to a Major 36-Year Study

Benefits of Participating in Artistic Activities

All of the health benefits come together to increase longevity when participating in artistic activities.

Dr. Dunphy details, “You will benefit from engaging the creative parts of your brain, including the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus, which can also help you regulate stress. There is often a social aspect to creative work, which also helps you feel a sense of connection, reducing stress even further. Arts activities may result in lowered cortisol and inflammation, more capacity to tolerate physical and mental stressors, and an increased number of positive emotions from the release of neurotransmitters in the brain that occurs when engaged in calming and flow state activities.”

She also says that a better quality of life can be experienced as a result, saying that some studies have found that those who engage regularly (at least every few months or more) in cultural activities could have reduced mortality by up to 31%.

Related: A New Study Says Just Three Minutes of Exercise a Day Can Help You Live Longer—Experts Explain How This Works

Types of Activities to Try

In Dr. Dunphy’s opinion, the most beneficial arts activities are those that combine either social engagement (if the individual finds joy in being around others), and/or physical activity. Generally, arts activities can encompass things like visual arts (drawing, painting, sculpting), performing arts, poetry and writing, making crafts, and even culinary arts.

“Further, any arts-related activities performed in nature can elicit extra benefits, as being around nature has been shown to calm down the brain even further,” she says.

Steefel believes that the benefits of various artistic activities can’t actually be compared.

“It truly is a matter of what works for you and practicing mindfulness to see what that may look like at any given moment,” she says. “If the research tells us anything, it is that any kind of participation is valuable to our health, well-being and quality of life.”

Next up, discover the #1 sign you’ll live to 100.


  • Dr. Jen Dunphy, Doctor of Public Health.

  • Alexis Steefel, Registered and Board Certified Art Therapist with Four Diamonds at Penn State Health Children's Hospital.

  • The Lancet Psychiatry: “How leisure activities affect health: a narrative review and multi-level theoretical framework of mechanisms of action”

  • The BMJ: “The art of life and death: 14-year follow-up analyses of associations between arts engagement and mortality in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing”