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Study: Adult education classes, in any subject, can boost mental and physical health


Health ben­e­fits of evening class­es revealed (Sci­ence Dai­ly):

Those with a taste for adult edu­ca­tion class­es have long known it, but now Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty sci­en­tists have con­firmed that tak­ing part in the week­ly ses­sions can boost well­be­ing — regard­less of the sub­ject stud­ied.

In part­ner­ship with the Work­er’s Edu­ca­tion­al Asso­ci­a­tion (WEA), the largest vol­un­tary sec­tor provider of adult edu­ca­tion in Eng­land and Scot­land, a team from Oxford’s depart­ment of exper­i­men­tal psy­chol­o­gy stud­ied atten­dees at sev­en sep­a­rate day-time adult edu­ca­tion classes…Overall, atten­dees at all sev­en class­es had improved men­tal and phys­i­cal health and report­ed more sat­is­fac­tion with their lives at the end of their cours­es.

An intrigu­ing find­ing was in the singing and cre­ative writ­ing classes…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.”

Study: Is Group Singing Spe­cial? Health, Well-Being and Social Bonds in Com­mu­ni­ty-Based Adult Edu­ca­tion Class­es (Jour­nal of Com­mu­ni­ty & Applied Social Psy­chol­o­gy)

  • From the abstract: Evi­dence demon­strates that group singing improves health and well-being, but the pre­cise mech­a­nisms remain unknown. Giv­en that cohe­sive social net­works also pos­i­tive­ly influ­ence health, we focus on the social aspects of singing, explor­ing whether improve­ments in health and well-being are medi­at­ed by stronger social bonds, both to the group as a whole (col­lec­tive-bond­ing) and to indi­vid­ual class­mates (rela­tion­al-bond­ing). To do so, sev­en new­ly formed com­mu­ni­ty-based adult edu­ca­tion class­es (four singing, N=84, and three com­par­i­son class­es study­ing cre­ative writ­ing or crafts, N=51) were fol­lowed over sev­en months. Self-report ques­tion­naire data on men­tal and phys­i­cal health, well-being and social bond­ing were col­lect­ed at Months 1, 3 and 7. We demon­strate that phys­i­cal and men­tal health and sat­is­fac­tion with life sig­nif­i­cant­ly improved over time in both conditions…singing may not improve health and well-being more than oth­er types of activ­i­ties. Nonethe­less, these find­ings encour­age fur­ther work to refine our under­stand­ing of the social aspects of com­mu­ni­ty-based adult edu­ca­tion class­es in pro­mot­ing health, well-being and com­mu­ni­ty cohe­sion.

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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