Kick Up Your Heels!

Kick Up Your Heels! 

November is Arts and Health Month. This month our blog will focus on the relationship between art and health.  For more information you may visit the Society for the Arts in Healthcare, the international non-profit organization that founded Arts and Health Month.

The pursuit of art on a regular basis may be the key to healing our minds and bodies. Kim Blair

When I think about the relationship between art and health I typically think about the connection between creativity and the brain, mental health or stress reduction.

I tend to not think about the connection between art and physical activity.  However, there is a relationship between art and physical activity and, as we all know, physical activity is important to good health.

You see, art is such a fundamental element in our life that we can easily overlook the presence of art.  We may not recognize how often art is a part of our activities or how often art influences or enhances our health and well-being.

 Dance – an art form. The body – an instrument. Learn to play the instrument and master the art form. Debbie Dee

Dance is an art form.  Maybe calling what I’m doing on Saturday night art is a stretch but listening to music (art) and dancing (art) is a perfect example of how art can be a part of our physical activity and help to keep us health.

Dance is a great exercise. Dancing can raise your heart rate, burn calories, and tone muscles. Dance also helps with:

  • better coordination
  • increased flexibility
  • improved balance
  • physical confidence

One of the best things about dance is that for many people dancing doesn’t feel like exercise. Instead, it is a fun and social activity.  Art, in this case dance and music, enhances our experience making our activity more joyful.

Whether you study ballet, practice tap-dancer, do hip-hop moves, belly-dance with friends or take weekend ballroom lessons you are getting a great work-out all while practicing a long standing art form.

And that is one of the most beautiful things about art, it connects us to traditions.  With dance, you are repeating rhythms and movements that have been part of human behavior for centuries.  You become part of something greater and continue to keep art alive.

Next time you turn up the music and dance take a moment to appreciate the art you are practicing.

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Art and Public Health

November is Arts and Health Month, a great time to highlight the various ways the arts are used in health care and community settings.  Today I want to share how the arts are used in public health

Public Health

Public health works to promote healthy behavior and respond to health concerns for populations.  Public health addresses health issues at a community level, rather than at the individual level, and focuses on prevention, rather than treatment. For example, public health programs might include developing vaccines, distributing condoms or health education campaigns.

We often think about the science involved in public health, but I believe art is equally important in this field.  We must remember that art is present in all cultures, all communities, art is not something this is an “extra”, instead art is a universal trait of human culture.  In providing public health programs to communities it only makes sense to incorporate art into services.

Piano Stairs

This video of a subway stairway designed to look like piano keys shows of how art shapes how we interact with our environment.  This is also an excellent example of how art can be part of a public health program designed to promote healthy behavior (this was not a public health program).

New Ideas

There is limited research on the role of art in public health.  A few graduate programs are incorporating this topic into curriculums.  The University of Toronto Public health graduate program hosts an annual Art of Public Health conference.

Public health programs have a great opportunity to improve services by incorporating the arts into their work.

What other ways can art be used in public health?  Share your ideas!

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