“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.” – Billy Joel, American singer-songwriter and pianist
By Henrylito D. Tacio
“Music is a fundamental attribute of the human species,” Harvard Medical School once said. “Virtually all cultures, from the most primitive to the most advanced, make music. It’s been true through history, and it’s true throughout an individual’s lifespan. In tune or not, we humans sing and hum; in time or not, we clap and sway; in step or not, we dance and bounce.”
“If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week,” English naturalist, geologist and biologist Charles Darwin admitted. German-born theoretical physicist Albert Einstein also bared: “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician.” It’s no wonder why Jimi Hendrix called music as his “religion.”
Thousands of years ago, Greek philosopher Plato had already pointed out the importance of music. “Music is a moral law,” he penned. “It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”
Aside from lifting your spirits, music also works as medicine for the soul and body. Several scientific studies have proven this. “There are few things that stimulate the brain the way music does,” one Johns Hopkins otolaryngologist said. “If you want to keep your brain engaged throughout the aging process, listening or playing music is a great tool. It provides a total brain workout.”
Let’s take a closer look at some of the health benefits you get from listening to music:
1 Music makes you happier.
William James once said: “I don’t sing because I’m happy; I’m happy because I sing.” Michelle Millis Chappel, in a website, www.lifehack.org, wrote: “Research proves that when you listen to music you like, your brain releases dopamine, a ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter.”
Chappel cited a study conducted by Valorie Salimpoor, an Australian neuroscientist at McGill University. She injected eight music-lovers a radioactive substance that binds to dopamine receptors after they listened to their favorite music. It was found out that large amounts of dopamine were released.
Another study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, suggested that listening to hip-hop music may help individuals to understand mental disorders – but that’s another story.
2 Music lowers stress and improves health.
Studies have shown that stress causes 60 percent of man’s illnesses and disease. One good thing about listening to music is that it decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your body, which counteracts the effects of chronic stress.
“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 passively listened,” Chappel wrote.
In 2009, Heart and Lung published a study that analyzed the effect of music intervention in the stress response to cardiac surgery and found that it helps reduce stress.
3 Music helps you sleep better.
If you have problem falling asleep, why don’t you listen to music? Chappel wrote: “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 nocturnal routine.”
Scott Christ, in an article published in USA Today recommends listening to classical music among students as it is “safe, cheap alternative to sleep-inducing medicines.”
4 Music helps you eat less.
Want to lose weight? Try listening to music. Thomas Hardy once said: “There’s a friendly tie of some sort between music and eating.”
Research at Georgia Tech University showed that “softening the lighting and music while people ate led them to consume fewer calories and enjoy their meals more,” Chappel wrote. “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.”
5 Music motivates you to exercise more.
“Music can help improve your athletic performance,” informs the website, www.10homeremedies.com. “It aids exercise performance through reducing the feeling of fatigue, increasing the levels of psychological arousal and improve motor coordination.”
It cited a study conducted in 2006 and published in Ergonomics. Fast, loud music, the study said, might be played to enhance optimal exercising on a treadmill until you reach exhaustion levels.
Two years later, another study, done by Brunei University, establishes a strong connection between music and cardiovascular exercise performance. “Carefully selected music can significantly increase a person’s physical endurance by about 15% and make the experience of cardiovascular exercise far more positive.”
6 Music relieves symptoms of depression.
When you’re down and out, the best you can do is listen to music. “Research suggests the kind of music matters: Classical and meditative seem to be particularly uplifting, whereas heavy metal and techno can actually make depressive symptoms worse,” Christ noted.
7 Music soothes and relaxes your blood vessels.
“Listening to their favorite music for 30 minutes a day improved blood vessel health in heart disease patients,” wrote Lauren Gelman in Reader’s Digest.
She based that statement from a study conducted in 2013 by Dutch researchers. “Patients who cued up tunes while they exercised experienced the greatest cardiovascular benefits,” Gelman wrote. “Hearing music increased production of nitric oxide, a gas that helps dilate blood vessels, keeping them healthy and flexible.”
8 Music helps Alzheimer’s patients remember.
British neurologist, naturalist, historian of science, and author Dr. Oliver Sacks once said: “The past, which is not recoverable in any other way, is embedded, as if in amber, in the music, and people can regain a sense of identity.”
According to Dr. Lauren Mosqueda, director of Geriatrics at the University of California at the Irvine School of Medicine, music affects so many areas of the brain that it stimulates pathways that may still be healthy.
“One in three seniors die with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, so odds are you know someone who has it,” Chappel wrote. “To connect with loved ones who suffer from age-related dementia, try playing some of their bestloved music.”
9 Music improves cognitive performance.
More often than not, movies provide background music, especially those kilig moments. In like manner, background music may enhance performance on cognitive tasks.
“One older study found that listening to music allowed test takers to complete more questions in the time allotted, and get more answers right,” Christ explained. “More recent research suggests that whether or not music improve cognitive function depends on whether the music first improves a person’s emotional state.”
10 Music ease recovery in stroke patients.
Many people wrongly believe that strokes afflict only the elderly, but the fact is they can occur at any age. Researchers in Finland found out that when stroke patients listened to music for two hours a day, their verbal memory and attention improved. In addition, they had a more positive mood compared to patients who didn’t listen to audio books.
Now, you know why you should listen to music!
“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 that if they passively listened”
July 2017 Health and Lifestyle