Why listening to music is the key to good health
It’s the weekend and at some point you’ll probably relax to your favourite music, watch a film with a catchy title track – or hit the dance floor.
There’s no doubt that listening to your favourite music can instantly put you in a good mood. But scientists are now discovering that music can do more for you than just lift your spirits.
Research is showing it has a variety of health benefits.
Fresh research from Austria has found that listening to music can help patients with chronic back pain.
And a recent survey by Mind – the mental health charity – found that after counselling, patients found group therapy such as art and music therapy, the most useful.
Here, we present six proven ways that music can help you and your family’s health1. CHRONIC BACK PAIN
How it helps: Music works on the autonomic nervous system – the part of the nervous system responsible for controlling our blood pressure, heartbeat and brain function – and also the limbic system – the part of the brain that controls feelings and emotions. According to one piece of research, both these systems react sensitively to music.
When slow rhythms are played, our blood pressure and heartbeat slow down which helps us breathe more slowly, thus reducing muscle tension in our neck, shoulders, stomach and back. And experts say that apart from physical tension, music also reduces psychological tension in our mind.
In other words when we feel pain, we become frightened, frustrated and angry which makes us tense up hundreds of muscles in our back. Listening to music on a regular basis helps our bodies relax physically and mentally, thus helping to relieve – and prevent – back pain.
The Benefits Of Listening To Music During Exercise
Oliver Sacks, the famed neurologist and author of Awakenings, wrote in his book, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, “Music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no mediation.”
It’s an amazing thing to watch little kids dance without being prompted and Alzheimer’s patients soothed by music. My own grandmother could rip a mean “boogie woogie” on the piano long past when she lost track of how many grandkids she had and who was married to whom. She came alive at the piano in the retirement home.
There’s a whole cottage industry of musicians writing music for fitness brands to evoke appropriate performance for high- and low-intensity workouts, and, of course, composers and music supervisors can steer the emotional arc of films. But how does all of it actually work in the body?
It appears dopamine is the key.
According to a study in the International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, self-selected, motivational and stimulative music is shown to enhance affect, reduce ratings of perceived exertion, improve energy efficiency and lead to increased work output during repetitive, endurance-type activities.
Many people feel that listening to music at work improves their mood. Others claim it even makes them more productive. Is there any merit to these impressions?
Of course, researchers have weighed in. Listening to music at work can make “absorbing and remembering new information” more difficult, according to a 2012 Time Magazine article. However, research has also found that listening to music at work can make people more productive.
So what’s the deal with the disparity?
The connection between listening to music you like at work and an improved mood is strong, says Teresa Lesiuk, associate professor of music education and music therapy at the University of Miami, to Futurism She said that about “90 percent of the time” people have positive experiences when listening to whatever kind of music they prefer, and listening to that music often produces “mild, positive moods.” Being in that frame of mind can be helpful for getting work done.
“It’s shown that when you’re in that particular mood state, you take in more options, you don’t narrow your focus, and that is beneficial to creative problem solving,” Lesiuk said. “When you’re in that mood state, you’re better at problem solving and thinking creatively.”
So not only can music help with productivity, it can make you more creative at work. Lesiuk said that, of course, there might be exceptions. If an artist’s music is especially dissonant or the tempo is extreme, that could create some distractions (sorry EDM lovers). But overall the improvements hold true if someone likes the music. If music is being piped into your workspace that you don’t particularly enjoy, the same effects probably won’t occur.