Classes in singing, crafts and creative writing all boost wellbeing, a series of three studies concludes.
Weekly sessions over seven months at all three subjects left people feeling in better mental and physical health.
Dr Eiluned Pearce, the first author of all three studies, said:
“The students reported benefits including increased self-confidence, a greater feeling of control over their lives and more willingness to take on new challenges.
Some said the classes made them more motivated to be more active, despite the classes not specifically involving physical activity.
Participants also said that the classes broadened their networks of friends and gave them an increased sense of belonging.
We also found that the more someone felt part of their group, the more their health and wellbeing improved.”
Participants in the study attended seven different day-time adult education classes in the UK.
While the results were positive, the classes did not all have the same benefits, Dr Pearce explained:
“The results showed that those in the singing and creative writing groups built up relationships with other individuals more quickly than the crafters, and singers felt more connected to the class as a whole more quickly than both the other groups.
‘While this confirms our earlier finding that singing has an ‘ice-breaker effect’ compared to other activities, it shows that other activities may enable people to increase their social networks just as much, even if it takes them longer to feel connected to their group as a whole.”
Howard Croft, the Worker’s Educational Association Regional Education Manager, said:
“The findings reiterate the feedback that we have had from our students over the years: learning is a fantastic way to boost your self-esteem and confidence.
Also of note, is its therapeutic effect.
For many students, creative courses are a means of finding a new outlet for expressing their feelings.
This can be of immense help during times of personal difficulty or emotional upheaval, such as divorce or bereavement.
Simply going to a course can offer much-needed respite.
For others, learning can be an opportunity to reignite a former passion.
This could be anything from a subject which you enjoyed at school to an area which you are interested in.
Whatever your reason, there are so many benefits to be gained by signing up to a course.”