The Benefits of Music


Did you know there are many benefits to listening to music? Crank up the tunes and blast those beats, because the results are in — music is good for you.
Listening to music has been shown to improve memory functioning, increase the rate of healing, improve your workouts and more.
And now… a crazy science fact:




#1 Music Improves Memory

Patients with memory loss can often remember songs and specific song lyrics. Doctors will often use music and lyric recall to help individuals retrieve lost memories. Certain music can trigger particularly unique memories- music from a specific time period will trigger memories from that time period. Want to remember something from the past? Listen to songs you listened to during that time!
Music's effect on memory has been a heated debate in the scientific world, but researchers now have evidence that the processing of music and language, specifically memorizing information, rely on some of the same brain systems. Researchers have also uncovered evidence that suggests the music we heard as teenagers has a greater emotional bond to our brain than anything we’ll listen to as adults. This idea of musical nostalgia is a fun exercise for anyone but is most impactful for people suffering from memory loss, including those with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Here’s a story about the transformative power of music from one man whose father has Alzheimer’s:
“As a family, we didn’t know what to do when our father was diagnosed with this Alzheimer’s disease. We have been through so many stages and now he seems to just be deteriorating to nothing. However, the music seems to have brought back some of his brain to him!”
Music and musical training have also been shown to protect the aging brain and keep it healthy.
University of Kansas Medical Center researchers conducted an experiment where they divided 70 healthy adults, ages 60 to 83, into three groups based on their amount of musical experience: no musical training, one to nine years of music lessons and at least 10 years of musical study.
The participants, who had similar fitness and education levels and were free of Alzheimer’s disease, were given several cognitive tests:
  • Those with the greatest amount of musical experience did best on these tests of mental acuity, followed by those with less musical study followed by those who never took music lessons.
  •  Compared to non-musicians, the individuals with a high degree of musical experience had much higher scores on the cognitive tests, including those related to visual and spatial memory, naming objects and the brain’s ability to adapt to new information
The really cool part? The benefits of musical study and training were still apparent even in participants who no longer played an instrument.
Bottom Line: You can now tell your mom that those hours of trombone practice for high school band were totally worth it.

#2 Music Improves Workouts

Do you hate working out? Dread going to the gym? Well grab your earbuds and head out!
Not only can music distract you from “bodily awareness” aka the aches and pains of working out, but it also has a health benefit too.
Listening to music releases endorphins in the brain. Endorphins give us a heightened feeling of excitement. In addition to feeling euphoric, endorphins quell anxiety, ease pain and stabilize the immune system. With high endorphin levels, we have fewer negative effects of stress.
Turning up your tunes can also up the effort you exert during exercise. In one study, researchers found that cyclists worked harder and biked a further distance when listening to faster music as compared to music with a slower tempo. When the tempo slowed, so did their pedaling and their entire affect. Their heart rates fell and their mileage dropped. 
For pace-based exercises like running or weight-lifting, music can help regulate rhythm and signal to the brain when the body should move. This signal helps us to use our energy more efficiently, so we’re not exhausting ourselves too soon.
Bottom Line: Make a playlist just for the gym or for working out. Need some ideas? Check out this list of the 100 best workout songs from FITNESS.

#3 Music Helps You Heal

study from Austria’s General Hospital of Salzburg found that patients recovering from back surgery had increased rates of healing and reported less pain when music was incorporated into the standard rehabilitation process.
“Music is an important part of our physical and emotional well-being, ever since we were babies in our mother’s womb listening to her heartbeat and breathing rhythms.” – Lead clinical psychologist of Austria General, Franz Wendtner.
When slow music is played, the body slows down too– the heart blow slows down and blood pressure drops. This causes the breath to slow, which helps release tension in the neck, shoulders, stomach, and back. Listening to slow or calming music on a regular basis can help our bodies relax, which over time, means less pain and faster recovery time. And better yet, less stress.
These findings have led to a clinical recommendation for stroke patients: everyday music listening during early stroke recovery offers a valuable addition to the patients’ care by providing an “individually targeted, easy-to-conduct and inexpensive means to facilitate cognitive and emotional recovery,” says Teppo Särkämö, author of the study.
Bottom Line: Adding music to a standard rehabilitative process helps patients heal.

#4 Music Reduces Stress and Eases Anxiety

Music has a unique link to our emotions, and research has found that it can be used as an extremely effective stress management tool.
Just like listening to slow music to calm the body, music can also have a relaxing effect on the mind. Researchers at Stanford University found that listening to music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication. Since music is so widely available and inexpensive, it’s an easy stress reduction option.
So, what type of music reduces stress best? Here’s what we found:
  • Native American, Celtic, Indian stringed-instruments, drums and flutes
  • sounds of rain, thunder and nature sounds
  • light jazz, classical and easy listening music
You must be the ultimate judge, however, of “relaxing music.” If Mozart isn’t quite doing it for you, explore other options that help you naturally relax.
Just like junk food increases stress in our system, a poor sonic or listening diet can do the same. Choose quieter environments and settings to prime your body to relax and recharge.
Making music can also release tension and relieve stress. 
Research has shown that casual music-making can short-circuit the stress response system and keep it from recurring or becoming chronic. WebMD tells us that “stress starts in the brain and then kicks off a chain reaction that switches on the stress response in every cell of our bodies. Over time, these cellular switches can get stuck in the ‘on’ position, leading to feelings of burnout, anger, or depression as well as a host of physical ailments.”
Bottom line: Both listening to and making/playing music can alleviate mild and chronic stress.

#5 Music Improves Sleep Quality

Insomnia and other sleep deprivation issues can wreak havoc on our lives. What if music could help?
According to one study conducted by Harmat, Takács, and Bódizs, 94 students (ages 19 to 28) with sleep complaints were brought into the lab. Participants were split into 3 groups. The first group listened to classical music at bedtime for 45 minutes for 3 weeks. The second group listened to an audiobook at bedtime for 45 minutes for 3 weeks. The control group received no intervention.
Sleep quality and depressive symptoms were measured using the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index and the Beck Depression Inventory respectively. The results?
The participants who listened to music showed statistically significant improvements in sleep quality and a decrease in depressive symptoms. There were no statistically significant results found for the audiobook or control group.
Bottom Line: Sleep better, longer and with fewer disturbances by listening to music at bedtime.
The next time you crank up the music in an impromptu dance party, remember all of the health benefits too. Music has been proven to help our bodies heal, improve memory, alleviate stress and more. And that is most certainly, music to my ears.
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