Academic journal article Perspectives in Public Health

The Power of the Senses in Public Health

Academic journal article Perspectives in Public Health

The Power of the Senses in Public Health

Article excerpt

‘All our knowledge begins with the senses

Immanuel Kant

The 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant saw the senses as only the beginning to understanding and reason.1 For those lacking one or more senses, the others become of vital importance in understanding their environment. This edition of the journal includes studies that show how we can exploit the health benefits of sensory activities and therapy in public health. Touch, for example, is one of the first senses that we develop and handling objects in a museum can help to improve engagement by people with advanced dementia.2 The reactions of patients handling objects from the 1950s to 1970s were analysed by observing and scaling behaviour, providing a method of measuring factors such as attention, agitation and effects on wellbeing. The senses of smell, sight and sound played a part, including the observations of how the activity affected social interaction.

Our reactions to the physical environment are much dependent on the senses, and a ‘favourable’ environment was significantly associated with less likelihood of obesity in a study examining the interrelationship of environment, socioeconomic status and different levels of body mass index (BMI).3 A favourable classification referred mainly to nearby availability of a park with appropriate physical activity equipment, although the association with less obesity was significant only for those with higher education. This way of investigating the present epidemic of obesity, using a unique UK dataset, deserves more research.

As for hearing, the largest study to date of singing in a choir – 1779 choristers – provides ‘overwhelmingly positive’ evidence of the benefits.4 Since this was based on a self-reported online questionnaire, the researchers conducted thematic analysis of comments to examine how the positive findings could apply to encouraging participation in a choir, such as in increasing physical, emotional and social wellbeing. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.