The study divided volunteers into two groups. One group became artistic. They joined a chorus, learned to paint, began writing, or made jewelry. The other group wasn't exposed to art. After one year, the artistic group was better off. They were healthier overall, had fewer doctor visits, used less medication, and had fewer falls and hip fractures. They were also less depressed, less lonely, and had higher morale.
So, why does creativity make you healthier? Scientists believe that when you challenge your brain to learn something new, you sharpen your memory, and gain a sense of mastery and empowerment. And when you join a group, you bond with other people, and come to care about them. And that reduces the risk of social isolation, a well-known cause of illness and death in older people.
And it's never too late to start being creative. One woman in the study started playing the violin when she was 67. Now, 6 years later, she still takes lessons, plays in a string quartet, and has made lots of new friends. And she wouldn't give it up for anything.
If you'd like to tap in to your creativity and stay healthier, take a look at the book The Creative Age: Awakening Human Potential in the Second Half of Life by Dr. Gene D. Cohen.