The simplest (and most entertaining) way to slash depression risk in half

As much as I like to promote a positive view of aging, the longer you’re on this earth, the more likely you are to experience some serious challenges…

Chronic health conditions. The loss of loved ones. Financial struggles. Injuries and accidents.

These experiences can easily take a toll on your mood. In fact, they can make you downright depressed.

Research shows that older adults are more likely to deal with depression than younger adults. And it’s not because it’s a natural part of aging. It’s because of the life-changing events and obstacles I just mentioned.

About 80 percent of older adults have a chronic health condition, and 50 percent have two. Add that to the loss of friends and family members and other challenges that happen when you’re older, and it makes perfect sense that depression risk increases with age. You’re up against a lot.

But that doesn’t mean you have to succumb to depression….

There are plenty of ways to keep depression from dragging you down in your later years…including one super simple and entertaining habit you only need to practice once per month to slash your depression risk nearly in half…

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Cultural activities clobber depression risk

A new study from the University College London shows that you can significantly slash your depression risk as you age by planning cultural outings like going to a museum or a movie.

This decade-long study included 2,000 men and women over the age of 50. By the end of the study, people who participated in cultural activities every few months were 32 percent less likely to develop depression. That’s impressive. But it gets even better….

People who participated in cultural activities once per month were 48 percent less likely to develop depression. That means you can cut your depression risk in half just by going to see a movie once a month. Talk about an easy (and enjoyable) form of depression prevention.

But why the heck is something so simple so effective?

Well, there are a lot of reasons…

Read: 10 minutes a day towards a happier you

Participating in cultural activities keeps you socially-engaged. It gets you out of the house. It gets you moving (at least a little bit), which means it makes you less sedentary. It stimulates your brain.

The arts also have a known stress-relieving effect. They lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which lowers inflammation. And guess what? Lower inflammation levels are tied to a lower risk of depression.

Getting your monthly dose of culture

So, what cultural activities can you practice monthly to cut your depression risk in half? There are plenty of options. But the activities you enjoy most will probably do the most for your depression risk. Here are some ideas for your next cultural outing:

  • Movies
  • Museums
  • Concerts
  • Plays
  • Musicals
  • Arts and crafts fairs
  • Operas
  • Art galleries
  • Libraries
  • Architectural tours
  • Author readings


  1. Depression is Not a Normal Part of Growing Older — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  2. Head to the Movies, Museums to Keep Depression at Bay — Health Day
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and