No matter whether you’re a rock and roller, a country crooner, a pop person or a classical creature you don’t need me to tell you how powerful music can be.
Music can get your blood pumping, encourage you to relax or simply help you focus to get you through a busy day. Plus we all have a sort of sound track for our lives. When you hear a particular song, it can instantly transport you back to a specific time or event from your past.
And there’s a reason for that. We’re built to respond to music, according to scientists. When we listen to it the regions in our brain linked to other things that give us pleasure like food, sex and drugs light up like a Christmas tree.
Experts say we hear and respond to music before we’re even born. In fact, a study found newborns remember music which is played for them when they’re still in the womb.
Research confirms music health benefits are real
And science confirms we don’t just like listening to music. It can have real world health benefits, too.
Following are eight powerful ways music can literally help you stay healthy or heal.
1. Improves mood:
It’s not just your imagination. Scientists say music literally improves your mood.
A study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, confirmed folks feel better when they listen to music. And researchers in Finland have figured out why.
They found that listening to music causes our bodies to release the “feel good” hormone dopamine. In other words, music quite literally makes you feel good.
2. Eases pain:
It turns out music doesn’t just help with emotional pain. It can help ease physical pain too. In fact, it may even help folks living with chronic pain pop a few less pain pills.
Research has shown listening to music reduces both acute and chronic pain. In one study, music provided significant pain relief for a group of folks suffering from the chronic widespread pain of fibromyalgia.
When researchers played the relaxing pleasant music which volunteers had chosen for themselves their pain plummeted and their mobility improved.
3. Improves sleep:
Not getting enough shuteye doesn’t just leave you feeling out of sorts. Chronic sleep problems can have some serious consequences too. In fact, experts say lack of sleep is linked to some major health issues including obesity, diabetes, reduced cognitive function, heart disease and a weakened immune system.
In other words, getting a good night’s sleep is critical for good health.
And the good news is music can help with that. Research published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing shows listening to soothing music before bed improves sleep quality significantly more than falling asleep to an audio book or even silence.
4. Boosts brain function:
Researchers proved long ago that learning to play a new instrument could help protect your cognitive function. In fact, when scientists had a group of older volunteers learn to play piano they had significant improvements in attention, cognitive function and even motor abilities.
But more recent studies have revealed that just listening to music helps boost our brain function, too.
A study out of England found that folks who listened to music while taking tests answered more questions, and had more correct responses, than people who took the tests in silence.
5. Encourages physical fitness:
Music can help you become more physically fit and even lose weight.
When you listen to upbeat music it naturally makes you want to get up and move. And that means burning extra calories, of course. But according to Brunel University’s School of Sport and Education, music does more than just make us want to dance. It supercharges our stamina too.
According to their research, music can increase our endurance by up to an astounding 15 percent. And in the real world that means switching on some tunes while you work out can keep you walking, biking or dancing far longer.
Music can even help us eat less. A small study out of Cornell University found that when volunteers listened to soft music while eating a meal they stopped eating sooner, and consumed less calories.
6. Supports immune system:
Researchers at McGill University took a deeper dive into 400 papers on the effects music has on overall health. And it quickly became clear that listening to music has clear benefits for our physical and emotional health.
But one benefit in particular stood out.
Music improves our immune system function. The music lovers had more antibodies, as well as higher amounts of the cells that fight off germs, viruses and bacteria.
7. Helps with heart health:
Experts say listening to music can be good for your heart. Studies have shown it can help lower blood pressure, increase blood flow, and even decrease recovery time after a heart attack or heart surgery.
Listening to joyful music can have a healthy effect on blood vessel function, dilating the vessels and improving blood flow. And a review of studies examining the relationship between music and the body found listening to music can help lower blood pressure and heart rate, and is associated with improved heart health overall.
8. Reduces stress and anxiety:
Music fans the world over can tell you that listening to their favorite tunes helps them relax. And science confirms it.
Studies show listening to music reduces stress and lowers anxiety. In one study, researchers found folks who listened to music while having surgery had measurably lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than volunteers who didn’t listen to any tunes.
Experts say music can alter our brainwaves, triggering relaxation in much the same way that meditation does. In fact, one study out of Seattle, Washington found that music could be as relaxing as massage.
In one fascinating study out the UK, scientists were even able to pinpoint specific pieces of music which induce relaxation.
They found 10 songs that excelled at reducing stress. But by measuring heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate they found that one piece in particular, “Weightless” but Marconi Union, reduced anxiety levels by a stunning 65 percent in listeners.
Sound therapists helped design “Weightless” to specifically slow heart rate, reduce blood pressure and lower cortisol levels. And it works.
They say music can soothe the savage beast. But it turns out your favorite tunes can deliver a bunch of real world health benefits, too.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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