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Save Our Souls: Why Theatre Is Good for You

24/04/2013 16:53 BST | Updated 30/07/2013 15:55 BST

As theatres struggle to make ends meet, scientists reveal why supporting your local playhouse may do more than just boost the books.

We all know that a burst of exercise can release endorphins, the happy hormone, but a study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) has revealed that time spend engaging with other creative people can have a similar effect.

The results, which were compiled using more than 50,0000 participants, showed that both an active and passive involvement in the performing arts (as an actor or as an audience member) promoted feelings of wellbeing and happiness; revealing that participation was associated with 'good satisfaction with life, low anxiety and low depression in both genders.'

A researcher from NTNU said: "Up to now physical activity has been recognized as a measure that promotes good health."

"The results suggest that the use of cultural activities in health promotion and health care may be justified."

However, in what seems like a never ending recession, many households simply cannot afford to take their brood to see the latest hit musical, especially as a recent survey conducted by The Stage found that the average best seat West End ticket price had increased from £72.12 in 2012 to £81.05 in 2013.

So what is the solution? Well, with shows costing less than a fifth of those in central London, regional theatre and fringe festivals offer both a boost to the local economy and to community spirit.

The perfect example of this being Britain's largest performing arts festival, the Edinburgh Fringe; which has long been the front runner when it comes to in providing the time and space for creativity to thrive. Offering audience members and participants of all tastes, an unrivalled hands-on experience which sees the Scottish city taken over for the whole of August, and it is thanks to unique environment that 66 years later the event is still going strong with organisers optimistic for the future.

Kath M Mainland, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society said: "I'm delighted to say that the Fringe is in fantastic health, with over 1.8 million tickets issued and many thousands of audiences attending over 814 free events across the city. The Fringe has shown its resilience in responding so positively to the unique challenges of 2012."

"The loyal and enthusiastic audience has once again been treated to the most amazing cultural experience and has been both entertained and challenged again and again by a programme of spectacular work across all art-forms and from all around the World."

Brighton Fringe, which prepares for kick off on 4 May, offers London and the Home Counties access to England's largest performing arts festival, as well as providing the perfect warm up to the summer.

Julian Caddy, Managing director of Brighton Fringe said: "It's the most exhausting and exciting time of the year. Whatever it is, it's the beginning of a journey that leads us to discover performance and visual art of every kind to suit all tastes and pockets."

But whatever you choose the evidence is clear, theatre really is good for you; science says so.