When we think of improving our overall health, our minds often think of things such as exercise, eating healthy meals, yoga, etc, but seldom do they think of music. But believe it or not, listening to music is one of the most potent ways of keeping yourself healthy. You are probably wondering just about now how music can improve the average person’s health status. Well, it does so in a variety of ways. In this post we shall shed light on some of the amazing ways that doing something as simple and enjoyable as listening to your favorite songs can contribute in making you a healthier person.
So without further ado, here are some of the top functions that a variety of scientific studies have suggested that we all stand to benefit from by just listening to the soothing and sweet sounds of music:
Stress is a very dangerous thing to both our mental and physical health. Stress that isn’t properly managed can lead to a host of very dangerous health issues ranging from high blood pressure to depression to heart disease. This is why anything that has the ability to reduce stress is considered a very good thing. And thankfully, listening to music has been time and again proven to be one of the most effective ways to manage and reduce stress.
Over the years, several scientific studies have concluded that listening to relaxing music has a great effect on reducing a person’s levels of stress. One such study was conducted by Orebro University Hospital in Sweden. The study, which was published in the Heart & Lung – The journal of Acute and Critical Care in 2008, concluded by saying there was significant evidence to indicate that hospital patients who listened to music after cardiac surgery reduced their stress levels greatly.
The bottom line is that uplifting music lifts our spirits and makes us feel so dang good! And anything that makes one feel good does a terrific job in cutting down stress!
According to a number of studies, music can play a very instrumental role in the management of pain. For example, according to a study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information in 2011, it was found out that patients who listened to music the evening before undergoing their spine surgery and a few days after it had lower pain levels than patients who didn’t listen to music before and after undergoing surgery. At the end of the study, researchers were able to establish beyond a shadow of doubt that music contributed significantly in relieving pain. However, they were unable to explain exactly how the music did that. Till date, science still can’t explain exactly how this happens.
While some have attributed music’s ability to reduce pain to nothing short of a placebo effect others have attributed it to a number of factors, including the fact that music helps in producing more dopamine, which in turn helps in the reduction of stress. And since stress and pain tend to have a close relationship, they suspect that the less stress an individual is facing, the less pain he/she is going to feel.
But whether placebo effect or not, the significant thing to take note of is that music can play a very important part in relieving pain.
Enhances Performance during Exercise
Many of us would agree that working out while listening to music makes a great difference in our performance. And sometimes, the more upbeat or danceable the song is, the better our performance becomes as we exercise. As a matter of fact, for most people, working out wouldn’t be the same in the absence of music. But why is this important to our health? We hear you ask. It is important simply because the more exercise you get, the healthier and fitter you become.
That said, how does music enhance our performance during workouts?
There are a number of reasons why music can help you immensely during exercise. Listening to music during high-intensity physical exercise such as jogging, rowing or running can act as a very effective erogenic aid or performance enhancer. An erogenic aid is said to be anything that you use to give yourself a mental or physical edge when engaging in vigorous physical exercise. Research suggests that music can significantly boost your level of performance during workouts by helping you take your mind off the fact that you are getting fatigued or feeling pains. The less fatigued and uncomfortable you feel during any workout, the longer you can perform the workout.
For example, Dr. Costas Karageorghis, who is famed for his extensive research into the role music plays in exercise and sports, in his 2016 book titled Applying Music in Exercise and Sport, explains in great depth how music can play a mighty role in boosting workouts. According to him, owing to the effects of music on exercise, it can be used as a tool to reduce the rising problems of obesity and diabetes plaguing the world.
In another study conducted in 2010, it was discovered that the performance of cyclists was boosted when they listened to faster music.
Improves Quality of Sleep
Poor sleep is linked to such negative issues as weight gain, depression, less athletic performance, and an increased risk of suffering from a wide variety of severe diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke. It is for these and many more reasons why quality sleep is important in life. Quality sleep plays a very major role in improving your health but also your overall well-being. In a 2006 study conducted by the Institute of Behavioral Sciences, Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary, it was revealed that listening to relaxing classical music had the ability to improve the quality of sleep among students and was therefore an effective way of treating insomnia.
Fights Dementia in Older Adults
For several years, the American non-profit organization MUSIC & MEMORY® has used music therapy to improve the lives of elderly people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and other types of dementias that lead to destruction of memory and several other functions of the brain. According to the organization, listening to songs that have strong connections with events in the past can help bring back those personal memories. According to them, even elderly people with the severest forms of dementia can benefit from music therapy.
But is there any concrete scientific evidence to prove that listening to music can aid memory?
As a matter of fact, a number of studies have found that music has the ability to stimulate certain parts of the human brain to mitigate memory loss in sufferers of dementia. One such research was conducted by the University of California, Irvine. According to the UC Irvine research, Alzheimer’s patients who listened to classical music obtained higher scores on memory tests than their counterparts who didn’t listen to any music before the tests. This is definitely good news to the millions of people all over the world suffering from dementia and memory loss!
Improves the Immune System
Your immune system can be described as your body’s inbuilt defense system that protects you 24/7 from various manners of illnesses and infections. The stronger your immune system is, the less likely you are to experience many health challenges. There are a variety of things that can improve our immune systems, including regular exercises, eating more vegetables and fruits, not smoking, and managing stress properly. We guess you probably knew these things already, but what you probably don’t know is that music can also help in boosting your immune system. Yes you heard us right! Listening to music can actually help strengthen the immune system. According to a Wilkes University research, music significantly affects the amount of Immunoglobulin A (IgA) produced in the body. Immunoglobulin A is a very potent antibody that helps the immune system defend the body against diseases and infections.
Besides the Wilkes University research, several other studies have found various degrees of connections between music and an improved immune system. For example, in 2008, researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Germany and the Sussex University in the United Kingdom discovered that volunteers who listened to about 50 minutes of dance music had a significant rise in their levels of antibodies that support the immune system. The study also found out that music had the ability to cause stress hormone levels in the body to decline, thereby contributing to a stronger immune system.
All in all, since music can do things such as elevate your mood, improve the quality of your sleep, reduce anxiety, combat stress and bring down depression, it can provide your immune system with a big boost.
Music saves you from Eating Too Much
One of the biggest causes of obesity is as a result of eating too much food – especially too much unhealthy food. Based on this, it is obvious that by cutting down the amount of food we eat, we are halfway into winning the battle against obesity. This is where music comes to play. Absolutely no pun intended! According to a study by the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, it was found out that people had the tendency of eating less food when eating in the company of soft music and dimmed lights. The fine mixture of music and dimmed lights tend to make one eat more slowly. The end result is that you eat less food. And the less food you eat, the fewer calories you are going to consume, which leads to a reduced risk of becoming overweight.
Helps Stroke Patients Recover Faster
According to a study by researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland, stroke patients, who spent at least a few hours a day listening to music, recovered much better than their fellow stroke patients who didn’t listen to music. The researchers concluded their study stating that listening to music for just two hours on a daily basis significantly not only improved the patients’ cognitive function but also put them in a mood that was more positive than their counterparts who listened to no music.
Helps Cancer Patients
In a study, it was discovered that listening to music played a very important play in helping cancer patients to communicate their sadness, fears, etc and better manage things such as the stress and anxiety associated with the disease. Listening to music also helped in easing the intense physical pain brought on by cancer. All in all, the study disclosed that when music therapy was used along with the traditional forms of treating cancer, patients of the disease enjoyed a better life quality.
Enhances Mood while Driving
The findings of a study conducted in Netherlands revealed that listening to music while driving a vehicle could elevate the driver’s mood. According to the research, driving in a positive mood not only makes the driver feel good but it can also help in making him/her drive the vehicle in a safer manner. So whenever you find yourself behind the wheel and you feel a little bit ill-tempered or grumpy, we suggest you turn on the radio and let the music do what it does best – elevate your mood.