physical activity

Visual Art Activities and Physical Exercise

When we think of older adults, we know that physical exercise can help in various aspects of their life. Not only can they have a better quality of life, but their mood may be improved as well. We often do not think of visual art activities as assisting the elderly in their life. Both of these interventions are low in cost and intensity.

Visual art activities concentrate on mental relaxation after self-expression through nonverbal communication while physical exercise hones in on physical fitness and relaxation. When the two are integrated, synergistic outcomes may be attained.

Visual art activities are not similar to say getting shredded using bodybuilding supplements or something like Cros-Fit, they are however defined as a healing technique established on intuitive or encouraged innovative expression utilizing diverse art elements and art methods such as painting, drawing, sculpting, clay modeling, and collage.

Physical exercise is described as a layout of bodily motion that is structured and redundant for a certain duration. The goal of physical exercise is to enhance the well-being and health of an individual. Swimming, walking, tennis, and bike riding are all activities that can be used for physical exercise.

With the quick growth of elderly residents across the globe, it is no wonder higher life expectancy, better living conditions, and longevity have all contributed to this. There have been several analyses done on how different programs together achieve various outcomes. In these studies, many had small samples participate. The combination of both the aforementioned interventions was found to be effective in enhancing well-being or quality of life and mood among the elderly in seven out of ten studies. The use of visual art activities has been shown to be influential in decreasing depressive manifestation, lessening discomfort, and enhancing joy, tranquility, fulfillment, and stability.

Challenges are being seen in pensions, healthcare, and social insurance due to the growth of the elderly population. Health problems increase when a person ages, which negatively affects all day-to-day operations. This could potentially develop into bodily or cognitive soundness problems for the individual. Disability and mortality are increased, while mood, cognitive functioning, and well-being are decreased. This drives up the costs of healthcare, long-term care, and social services. At this time, depression becomes a risk factor for the elderly. Thus, it is crucial to preserve sufficient levels of well-being in the older inhabitants to foster prosperous aging.

Nursing homes and community centers generally provide visual art therapy and physical exercise to the elderly. Through visual art activities, an individual is able to express themselves using the art elements provided. Many individuals that have a tough time expressing thoughts and feelings are able to explore their personal issues without having to talk about them. This is crucial for the well-being of an aging adult. Through this exploration, the individual learns how to cope with their symptoms, any stress they are facing, and whatever traumatic experiences they have in their lives.

Studies have shown that physical exercise is effective in decreasing depression in elderly individuals. Other benefits include enhancing cognitive function, mental vigilance, and confidence. Tension, anxiety, and frustration have been found to lessen when physical activity is added to the elderly’s wellness plan.  As a result of physical exercise, elderly people are more resilient to the physiological and emotional outcomes of psychological stressors. Research on physical exercise programs for older adults found that they are influential in decreasing signs of depression. Physical activity can be worthwhile in general, not only for treating ailments but for enhancing the mental health of geriatric adults.

The Studies

In the 10 studies (example Hutton, D. (2008) and Johnson, C. M., Sullivan-Marx, E. M. (2006)),  visual art activities utilized crafts, quilting, pottery, sculpturing, sculpting, painting, drawing, art therapy, and an art activity. For physical exercises, Tai Chi, Qigong, physical activity, yoga, and exercise were utilized. Individuals in the studies were pulled from the community, clinic/hospital vicinities, a nursing home, and a center for elderly adults. The sample size ranged from 11 to 535 individuals with average ages between 67 to 85 years of age.

The 10 studies had an average time per session of one to two hours with the average number of sessions per week as one to two. The intervention lasted from six weeks to 16 months.

Well-being or quality of life consequences was assessed in five of the10 analyses using seven additional benchmarks.  In three of these five studies, individuals exhibited noteworthy progress in well-being or quality of life. The other two studies found no substantial discrepancies between the intervention bunch and the control bunch in terms of well-being or quality of life.

Using a validated questionnaire, nine studies evaluated symptoms of depression. Six of the nine studies used the GDS. There was a considerable decline in feelings of depression in five of the studies. The depression scores between the intervention groups and the control groups were not particularly diverse in four other studies. The product of one analysis did not include depression.

Wrap Up

The conclusions from this research suggest that an intervention integrating visual art activities and physical exercise could provide psychological, cognitive, and physical health advantages for individuals aged 50 years and older with various psychological and physical concerns. Nevertheless, an analysis that directly compares the impact of integrated interventions versus the two single interventions still must be completed.

About The Author

Professor David Percival

Director of AHVC programme, and specialist in art and technology, including presence research, mixed and virtual reality.