Pop, country, instrumental classical – whatever the genre is, I’m sure you’ve been exposed to music in one way or another. According to Nielson’s Music 2014 study, 94% of American population choose to listen to music for 25 hours per week on average. It’s nice to blast music in your car or in your bedroom, but do you know that there are health benefits only from listening to your favorite tune?
So grab your headphones and see if you can remember this article better than your homework. Here are 5 ways that music can mentally affect your health.
1. Music reduces stress and anxiety
If you have ever played some music when you feel down, you know what I’m talking about. Researchers at New York University have proven that our brain waves can sync to the music we’re listening to. Music of tempo at around 60 beats per minutes causes the brain to synchronize with alpha brainwaves, which makes you more relaxed but not sleepy. As a result, scientists hypothesize that slower music helps you reduces stress. Of course, it doesn’t have to be so strictly scientific. Listening to music you love in general, whether slow or fast, causes the brain to release serotonin and can enhance your mood.
Even performing music can also have a calming effect. Imagine this: right before a test, you decide to play an instrument to help relieve stress. The sounds you produce, the repetitive hand and body motions, and the temporary distraction from stress can calm you down and reduces anxiety. Better yet, you don’t have to play seriously. According to Marlowe, a mother, jamming on a baby’s xylophone seems to be effective enough.
2. Music helps with pain management
Many people with a variety of diseases have tried music therapy to relieve their pain. In a 2013 study, researchers randomly assigned sixty people with fibromyalgia to a 4-week session of music intervention or to a control group, in which the patients do not listen to music. For those who don’t know, fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome related to the muscle and skeletal system. Afterward, the researchers gave the patients in-depth questionnaires about pain and feelings. They found that those who listen to music reported a significant reduction in pain in contrast to the control group.
How does this apply in real life? It means that patients for other chronic pain diseases such as osteoarthritis have a way to reduce their pain. Moreover, hospitals have applied music therapy to childbirth process and to patients recovering from surgery.
On a smaller, more personal scale, this means that listening to music can help you feel better with that sprained ankle or stubbed toe.
3. Music improves memory and concentration
Photo credit to: musicoomph.com
You may have heard that listening to classical music as a baby can help you get smarter. Although that topic has now grown a bit more controversial, music can still have a positive effect on your memory and concentration ability. That, in turn, will help you learn and remember better.
A research has been conducted in 2014 to see whether music can help patients with dementia to improve their memories. The results seem positive. Researchers assigned 89 people to a 10-week singing coaching group, a 10-week music listening group, or a control group of usual care. Compare with the control group, patients in the singing and music listening group exhibit mood and episodic memory improvements. This proves that music can help with memories and can be used in dementia patient care.
Moreover, teenagers nowadays claim that they study better with music, and there may be some truth in that. Listening to music engages many parts of your brain. And having both brain hemispheres activated allows it to process and retain information more efficiently. Also, music enjoyment causes of serotonin production, which can boost your motivation and concentration while learning.
4. Music helps you exercise
If you often go to the gym, you probably have a “gym playlist” to make you work harder. Researches have proven that this fact is quite true. In the UK, thirty participants in a research listened to motivational music, non-motivational music, or no music as they use the treadmill until exhaustion. Results show that those who listen to either type of music can work out longer comparing to those who don’t listen to music. Participants who listen to music also reported that they felt better afterward. Even athletes agree: many of them thought that music is essential to achieve the most satisfying workout session.
To choose the right music for a workout, tempo and rhythm are important. Most people tend to synchronize their action with the beat of the music, so faster beats are often more stimulating and yield better workout results than slower beats. Personally, I listen to music with a louder base while working out because it allows me to feel the beat and rhythm better.
5. Singing in the shower is good for you
If you ever feel like you’re a brilliant singer in the shower, you’re not alone. But did you know that singing in the shower also has health benefits?
When you step in the shower after a long day or a long night, you’re alone in a small, safe environment. Warm water tingles on your skin. If you close your eyes, you can just imagine yourself being in the rain. You’re comfortable and relaxed – which causes the brain to release dopamine and make you feel even better. Moreover, singing requires you to take in a deeper breath. As a result, blood circulation increases, and this improves your mood. You can even get some mind-clearing benefits of meditation! In the long term, those who sing often have a lower level of cortisol hormone, which is a hormone related to stress. This, in turn, helps improve the health of your heart and your body.
So if you’re feeling a bit down, try taking a shower and singing your heart out.
Music has become so integrated into our lives that it’s almost impossible to get through the day without hearing it somewhere – on your phone, in a coffee shop, or even on the streets. As a result, science has now dedicated many resources to exploring more of the effects music has on humans. All in all, it’s nice to know that the tune you’re bobbing your head to can help you live a healthier life.