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Creative work is good for your health

A study, published in this month?s Journal of Health and Social Behavior, has found that creative activity helps people to stay healthy. The study shows that employees who have more control over their daily activities, and do challenging work they enjoy, are likely to be in better health.

The researchers define creative activity as non-routine, enjoyable activities which provide an opportunity for learning and for solving problems. The study shows that people who do that kind of work, whether paid or not, feel healthier and have fewer physical problems. The authors were surprised by the findings that daily activities of an employed person are more creative than those of a non employed person of the same age, sex and level of education. The study also found that in general, being employed leads to better health regardless of the amount of creativity required in their work.

Their findings come from 2,592 people's responses from a national telephone survey carried out in 1995 and which was followed up in 1998.  The survey asked individual's about how they spent their daily time and whether their work, even if unpaid, gave them a chance to learn new things or do things they enjoy. The survey also addressed general health and physical functioning.

The lead researcher Professor John Mirowsky said that the health advantage of being above average in creative work versus being below average is equal to being 6.7 years younger.  It is also equal to having two more years of education or 15 times greater household income

The authors found that people with a wide variety of jobs manage to find ways to make them creative.  To read the press release click here

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