I recently read about a study that had some good news in it for me–researchers recently found that people, especially men, who actively watch or participate in sports and cultural activities are happier and healthier than those who stay at home. As an avid participant in athletics (softball, basketball, and golf), watcher of sports (season ticket holder for University of San Francisco basketball and baseball enthusiast), and lover of comedy shows and concerts–this is great to know.
The Norwegian study involved 50,000 people, and found that men who were active in a variety of activities, like sports, church events, music shows, or going to museums, were 14% more likely to report being satisfied with life and 12-13% less likely to have anxiety or be depressed. There was an effect in women, but it was less significant than in men.
The effect might seem small, but one of the researchers noted that “even if cultural participation might not do much for an individual’s likelihood of being unhappy or ill… small changes can have a big effect across an entire population.” It’s important to mention that this proved only a correlation, not a cause and effect–so it might be that happier and healthier people are more interested in getting out in the world, or it might be that the activities are positively impacting lives. I would be interested in learning whether it was related to the social aspects of sports and culture, since we know that socializing is good for happiness and health too. Either way, I’m glad to know that all of those days and nights spent in the stands agonizing over my beloved New York Mets might actually be good for me!