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Effects of museum-based art activities on older community dwellers’ physical activity: the A-health randomized controlled trial results

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Key summary points

AbstractSection Aim

Because museum-based art activities practiced in a group setting improve the physical health of older adults, we suggest that they may also improve their physical activity through an increase in daily step count.

AbstractSection Findings

A greater daily step count was observed in individuals who practiced museum-based art activities compared to those who did not practice these activities.

AbstractSection Message

Museum-based art activities improved daily physical activity in older community dwellers, confirming health benefits and suggesting the potential of museums in health promotion and disease prevention.



Museum-based art activities have demonstrated health benefits in older adults. Few clinical trials, however, have examined physical health benefits specifically. This randomized controlled trial (RCT) aims to compare changes in daily step count over a 3-month period in older adults participating in museum-based art activities and their control counterparts.


Using a subset of 53 participants recruited in the A-health RCT, the daily step count of 28 participants in the intervention group (age 70.5 ± 4.9 and 92.0% female) and 25 in the control group (age 71.5 ± 5.3 and 78.6% female) were recorded using a Fitbit Alta HR. Weekly art activities were carried out at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA, Quebec, Canada) over a 3-month period. The outcomes were the mean step count per active hours (i.e., between noon and 6 pm), inactive hours (i.e., between midnight and 6 am) and over the full day (i.e., 24 h) and the change in step count following the 3-month (M3) art-based intervention at the MMFA.


The intervention group had a greater daily step count compared to the control group at M3, regardless of the step parameters examined (P ≤ 0.026). Linear regressions showed that the change in daily step count for the full day (P ≤ 0.010) and active hours (P ≤ 0.026) increased significantly with the MMFA art-based activities.


MMFA-based art activities improved daily physical activity in older community-dwellers who participated in the RCT, confirming health benefits and suggesting the potential of museums in health promotion and disease prevention.

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We are grateful to the participants for their cooperation and to the MMFA team members who participated in the organization and execution of the participatory art-based activities. We also want to thank Ms. Nathalie Bondil (General Director and Chief Curator of the MMFA), Mr. Thomas Bastien (Director of the Education and Wellness Department at the MMFA), Ms. Danielle Champagne (Director of the MMFA Foundation) and Ms. Claude Krynski (Director of Philanthropic Development at the Foundation of the Montreal Jewish General Hospital).


The study was financially supported by private donation (Charon Family) and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Montreal, Quebec, Canada).

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Correspondence to Olivier Beauchet.

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The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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The Jewish General Hospital Ethics Committee (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) approved the project (2019–1493).

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Enrolled participants provided their written informed consent for the study.

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Planta, O., Cami, M., Matskiv, J. et al. Effects of museum-based art activities on older community dwellers’ physical activity: the A-health randomized controlled trial results. Eur Geriatr Med 14, 971–976 (2023).

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