“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.” – Plato
Who doesn’t love music? Certainly there are some of us, but for the most part, music is a big part of our lives. Whether it’s the music that we listen to on the way to work, while we workout, or the music we hear in a symphony or film, it can bring up our moods, tell us a story or even bring us down. Music has the ability to touch cultures all over the world and has been doing so since very early times in human history. Have you ever wondered how this favorite pastime of yours affect your health?
Recent researches indicate that listening to music improves our mental well-being and boosts our physical health in surprising ways. It does everything from decreasing your anxiety to helping you fall asleep at night. So go ahead and play ANTI while you read our list of the top 13 benefits of listening to music (Since today’s Friday the 13th. Boo!).
Brighten Up Your Mood
“I don’t sing because I’m happy; I’m happy because I sing.” – William James
Research proves that when you listen to music you like, your brain releases dopamine, a “feel-good” neurotransmitter. Valorie Samlimpoor, a neuroscientist at McGill University, injected eight music-lovers with a radioactive substance that binds to dopamine receptors after they listened to their favorite music. A PET scan showed that large amounts of dopamine were released, which biologically caused the participants to feel emotions like happiness, excitement, and bliss.
So the next time you feel like you need an emotional boost, play your favorite tunes for 15 minutes. That’s all it takes to get a natural high!
Boost Your Workout Endurance with Music
“If people take anything from my music, it should be motivation to know that anything is possible as long as you keep working at it and don’t back down.” – Eminem
Marcelo Bigliassi and his colleagues found that runners who listened to fast or slow motivational music completed the first 800 meters of their run faster than runners who listened to calm music or ran without music. Studies show that listening to those top workout tracks can enhance physical performance and increase workout endurance. When we’re focusing on our favorite album, we’re not noticing that we’ve just run an extra mile or did some extra reps.
Music Lowers Stress and Improves Health
“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” – Billy Joel
Listening to music you enjoy decreases levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in your body, which counteracts the effects of chronic stress. This is an important finding since stress causes 60% of all of our illnesses and diseases. One study showed that if people actively participated in making music by playing various percussion instruments and singing, their immune system was boosted even more than if they listened passively.
“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the spaces between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.” – Maya Angelou
More than 350 million people suffer from depression around the world. A whopping 90% of them also experience insomnia. A sleep research found that symptoms of depression decreased significantly in the group that listened to classical music before bedtime. Another study by Hans Joachim Trappe in Germany also demonstrated that music can benefit patients with depressive symptoms, depending on the type of music. Meditative sounds and classical music lifted people up, but techno and heavy metal brought people down even more.
The next time you feel low, put on some classical or meditative music to lift your spirits.
Get Better Sleep with Classical Music
“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Berthold Auerbach
A study showed that students who listened to relaxing classical music for 45 minutes before turning in slept significantly better than students who listened to an audiobook or did nothing different from their normal routine. So, if you’re having trouble sleeping, try listening to a little Bach or Mozart before bedtime to catch some z’s.
Music Helps You Savor Your Meals and Eat Less
“There’s a friendly tie of some sort between music and eating.” – Thomas Hardy
A Cornell University study found that softening the lighting and music while people ate led them to consume fewer calories and enjoy their meals more. If you’re looking for ways to curb your appetite, try dimming the lights and listening to soft music the next time you sit down for a meal.
Music Minimizes Road Rages
“That’s what I love. Not being interrupted, sitting in the car, listening to music in the rain. There are so many great songs yet to sing.” – Alison Krauss
A study in the Netherlands found that listening to music can positively impact your mood while driving, which can lead to safer behavior than not listening to music. The next time you feel frustrated in traffic, crank up your favorite tunes to improve your state of mind. It won’t hurt your driving performance – it may even help you drive more safely.
Strengthen Learning and Memory
“Music is the language of memory.” – Jodi Picoult
Researchers have discovered that music can help you learn and recall information better, but it depends on how much you like the music and whether or not you’re a musician. Subjects memorized Japanese characters while listening to music that either seemed positive or neutral to them. The results showed that the participants who were musicians learned better with neutral music but tested better when pleasurable music was playing. Non-musicians, on the other hand, learned with positive music but tested better with neutral music.
You now have a strategy to study more effectively for your next test and score better.
Music Acts as a Relaxer Before and After Surgery
“He who sings scares away his woes.” – Miguel de Cervantes
Researchers found that listening to relaxing music before surgery decreases anxiety. In fact, it’s even more effective than being orally administered Midazolam, a medication often used to help pre-op patients feel sleepy that also has gnarly side effects such as coughing and vomiting. Other studies showed that listening to soothing music while resting in bed after open heart surgery increases relaxation.
Globally, 234 million major surgeries are performed each year. If you or someone you know is going into surgery, be sure to bring some soothing tunes to ease anxiety. It may work better, and will certainly have fewer adverse side effects, than the meds they dispense.
Music Serves as a Pain Reliever
“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” – Bob Marley
Researchers at Drexel University in Philadelphia found that music therapy and pre-recorded music reduced pain more than standard treatments in cancer patients. Other research showed that music can decrease pain in intensive care patients and geriatric care patients, but the selection needed to be either classical pieces, meditative music, or songs of the patient’s choosing.
Bob Marley was right about this one – listen to music you love to take your pain away.
Music Increases Verbal Intelligence
“Music is to the soul what words are to the mind.” – Modest Mouse
After only one month of music lessons (in rhythm, pitch, melody and voice), a study at York University showed that 90% of children between the ages of 4 and 6 had a significant increase in verbal intelligence. Researcher Sylvain Moreno suggests that the music training had a “transfer effect” which enhanced children’s ability to understand words and explain their meaning. Other research showed that musically trained adult women and musically trained children outperformed those without music training on verbal memory tests.
No matter whether you’re an adult or a child, if you want to boost your verbal skills, try taking music lessons!
Music Raises IQ and Academic Performance
“Music can change the world because it can people.” – Bono
Research reveals that taking music lessons predicts higher academic performance and IQ in young children. In one study, 6-year-olds who took keyboard or singing lessons in small groups for 36 weeks had considerably larger increases in IQ and standardized educational test results than children who either took drama lessons or no lessons at all. The singing group did the best.
Encouraging children to sing and/or learn to play an instrument will help your children achieve academic excellence.
Music Keeps Your Brain Healthy in Old Age
“Music is the true breath of life. We eat so we won’t starve to death. We sing so we can hear ourselves live.” – Yasmina Khadra
A study with healthy older adults found that those with ten or more years of musical experience scored higher on cognitive tests than musicians with one to nine years of musical study. The non-musicians scored the lowest. “Since studying an instrument requires years of practice and learning, it may create alternate connections in the brain that could compensate for cognitive declines as we get older,” says lead researcher Brenda Hanna-Pladdy.
Business magnate Warren Buffet stays sharp at age 84 by playing ukulele. It’s never too late to play an instrument to keep you on top of your game.
Plato had it right when he said, “Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul.” Regardless whether you’re young or old, healthy or sick, happy or sad, music can improve the quality of your life in numerous ways. It reduces stress and anxiety, lifts your mood, boosts your health, helps you get better sleep, takes away your pain, and even makes you smarter.
New research shows that music “can communicate basic human feelings regardless of the listener’s cultural and ethnic background.” We’ve only just begun to understand all the ways this universal language can profit the world. We should encourage music and art programs in Nepali schools and all over the globe. Why not invest in exploring all the secret places that music reaches so that we may continue to reap its amazing benefits?
Turn up the volume
Regardless of your taste in music, it’s clear that tunes benefit our health. The best part? Now you have an excuse for blaring Beethoven while your roommate is trying to study.
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