“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”
Judging by the quote above from Plato, it’s clear that music has been part of life for thousands of years, and it continues to be an important aspect of almost every culture on Earth.
Music is an art form that also provides entertainment and pleasure. In addition, music works as a medicine for the soul and body. When the right type of music is chosen, it has amazing effects on both the mind and body.
It seems to impact our health and well-being in a number of ways and has fascinated health experts who research its healing powers.
Here are the top 10 health benefits of music.
1. Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Many people struggle with stress and anxiety on a daily basis. To deal with these problems, one of the easiest options is listening to slow-tempo and low-pitch music, without lyrics or loud instrumentation. Such music can calm people down, even during highly stressful times.
As an added bonus, music can help reduce cortisol levels, a biological marker of stress. It can even promote relaxation of tense muscles and help you feel more optimistic and positive.
A 2007 study published in Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback notes that listening to classical and self-selected relaxing music after exposure to a stressor aids in reducing anxiety, anger and sympathetic nervous system arousal and increases relaxation as compared to listening to heavy metal music or sitting in silence.
Another 2009 study published in Heart & Lung analyzed the effect of music intervention in the stress response to cardiac surgery and found that it helps reduce stress.
Moreover, another 2009 study published in Acta Anaesthesiological Scandinavica found that in surgery patients, the stress-reducing effects of music were more powerful than the effect of an oral anxiolytic drug.
The key to relieving stress through music is to follow your own taste and listen to music that fits your mood.
2. Decreases Pain
Music has a unique ability when it comes to dealing with pain. It helps reduce pain but the mechanism through which this happens is not very clear.
However, experts believe that music’s impact on the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is crucial for happiness and relaxation, may play a role.
A 2011 study published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing reports that music therapy has some positive effects on levels of anxiety and pain in patients undergoing spinal surgery.
Another 2011 study published in the Journal of Pain notes that listening to music can reduce responses to pain, depending on the person. Anxious people who get easily absorbed in music can feel quick relief from pain.
A 2013 study in Pain Management Nursing found that music has a positive impact in reducing pain and depression in people diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is a disease characterized by severe musculoskeletal pain, which is generally unbearable.
3. Improves Immune Functioning
Another great benefit of listening to music is that it can boost your immune system functioning.
When you listen to music, your body has an increase in immunoglobulin A. This antibody plays an important part in the mucous system and keeps cells healthy.
It even reduces the stress-related hormone cortisol, which can lead to a decreased immune response.
A 2004 study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine concludes that listening to choral music leads to decreased levels of cortisol and even suggests that choir singing positively influences both emotional affect and immune competence.
Another 2007 study published in the Journal in Music Therapy notes that intervention of music demonstrates communication between the mind and body.
This has a positive impact on emotions, immune system and endocrine parameters during physiotherapy treatment of patients with infectious lung conditions.
Start listening to your favorite music to keep your immunity strong and prevent frequently getting sick.
4. Motivates to Exercise More
Music can help improve your athletic performance. It aids exercise performance through reducing the feeling of fatigue, increasing the levels of psychological arousal and improving motor coordination.
A 2006 study published in Ergonomics reports that fast, loud music might be played to enhance optimal exercising on a treadmill until you reach exhaustion levels.
A 2008 study conducted by Brunel University establishes a strong connection between music and cardiovascular exercise performance.
Carefully selected music can significantly increase a person’s physical endurance by about 15 percent and make the experience of cardiovascular exercise far more positive.
Another 2009 study published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology emphasizes the fact that motivational synchronous music can elicit an ergogenic effect and enhance in-task affect during an exhaustive endurance task.
So, the next time you exercise, do not forget to listen to rock and roll or other upbeat music.
5. Boosts Memory
Music also promotes cognitive health. When you listen to music while studying, it helps you remember the information better. Music helps promote dopamine release, which spurs motivation to keep learning.
A 2006 study published in Brain found a strong connection between listening to music and brain development. It found that young children who take music lessons show different brain development and improved memory over the course of a year as compared to children who do not receive musical training.
Music even helps people with memory-related problems. A 2008 study published in Brain found that stroke patients who listened daily to self-selected music showed significant improvement on verbal memory and focused attention.
Another recent 2014 study published in The Gerontologist found that singing and music listening improved mood, orientation and memory in patients with dementia.
6. Improves Sleep Quality
If you have difficulty sleeping soundly, listen to some soothing music before bedtime. However, avoid listening to rock or retro music, which can have the opposite effect.
Soothing and relaxing classical music reduces sympathetic nervous system activity, alleviates anxiety, relaxes the muscles and provides distraction from thoughts that do not allow you to sleep.
By improving your sleep quality, you will feel reduced fatigue, tiredness, depression and problems in daytime functioning.
A 2008 study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing reports that relaxing classical music is an effective intervention in reducing sleeping problems via muscle relaxation and distraction from thoughts.
Make it a habit to listen to 30 to 45 minutes of relaxing music prior to bedtime to enjoy restful sleep throughout the night.
7. Helps You Eat Less
Playing soft music during a meal can help people slow down while eating. This in turn makes them more aware of when they become full.
A 2012 study published in Psychological Reports shed light on the fact that along with restaurant lighting, music can help reduce calorie intake and increase satisfaction.
Plus, music helps reduce anxiety. In response to anxiety, the body makes extra ghrelin, which makes you crave more foods that are high in carbohydrates and fat. So, reducing your anxiety with music can help you eat healthier.
When eating at home, soften the lighting in the room and listen to some soothing music in order to consume fewer calories and enjoy your meal more. Taking in fewer calories will go a long way in managing your weight.
8. Enhances Blood Vessel Functioning
When listening to joyful music, you feel good and happy. These emotions experienced while listening to music have a healthy effect on your heart and blood vessel functioning.
Music impacts the endothelium function of the body, which forms the linings of blood cells. Better endothelium functionality is the secret behind a healthier vascular system.
A 2008 research conducted by the University of Maryland Medical Center reports positive emotions aroused by joyful music have a healthy effect on blood vessel function.
Joyful music raised the flow mediated dilation (FMD) by 26 percent. FMD measures the endothelium function. The benefits of music were similar to those of laughter.
Music even increases the production of nitric oxide that helps dilate blood vessels, keeping them healthy and flexible.
9. Lowers Blood Pressure
By listening to some relaxing music every morning and evening for 30 minutes, people suffering from high blood pressure can notice great improvement in their blood pressure levels.
A 2007 study published in the proceedings of the 29th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society analyzed the effect of music on hypertensive patients ages 63 to 93 years.
The study concluded that listening to a certain type of music for 25 minutes every day for four weeks reduced high systolic blood pressure (SBP).
Another 2012 study published in the Indian Heart Journals highlighted the beneficial effects of music in reducing systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure and heart rate in a variety of clinical settings, such as the pre-operative setting and the intensive care unit.
Music also plays a key role in strengthening the heart and improving the recovery time of patients suffering from heart disease.
10. Improves Recovery in Stroke Patients
Music can also help stroke patients recover sooner. Listening to music while resting in bed after a stroke helps relax patients and reduce their stress levels.
A 2008 study published in the journal Brain reports that listening to music in the early stages after a stroke can help improve patients’ recovery. The study points out that there are three neural mechanisms by which music helps.
- Music gives the feeling of pleasure, reward, arousal and motivation.
- It directly stimulates the recovery of the damaged areas of the brain.
- It also stimulates the ability of the brain to repair and renew its neural networks after damage.
Another 2012 study published in the Annals of New York Academy of Sciences states that daily music listening can improve auditory and verbal memory, focused attention and mood as well as induce structural gray matter changes in the early post-stroke stage.
A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy points out that listening to excerpts of classical music ameliorates unilateral neglect in stroke patients.
If you know someone who has suffered a stroke, gift them their favorite songs to significantly ramp up their recuperation.