The Benefits of Listening to Music

by / January 1, 2012


Medical practitioners often talk about how music can have a positive effect on our health. Music Therapy is widely used to treat a number of physical and mental conditions. There are 2 types of therapy – actively taking part in music and listening to music. Both have amazing health benefits. Here are the reasons why…

Emotional // Lyrics and music form an emotional connection with us and are also linked to memories. We often know what songs can give us a lift and make us feel better. On the contrary, we also know what songs will enhance our sad mood and sometimes listen to them – don’t do that!

Exercise // Stimulating music can increase muscle tension, while softer music decreases muscle tension. If you listen to stimulating music while exercising, it will make the task seem easier. It is also thought that our motor skills improve when listening to music while carrying out activities. Music can also distract you from exercise and relieve boredom. Let’s admit it; the treadmill can be a bit boring!

Pain Relief // Yes! You heard it right. A study of chronic pain sufferers found that those who listened to music for an hour a day experienced 21% decrease in their pain. As well as acting as a distracter, music can aid recovery because it can affect the listener’s positivity. Patients with a positive outlook recover more quickly than those with a negative outlook. Endorphins are also released when listening to music we enjoy and relaxes the patient.

The Brain // It’s good for your brain. Well, actively taking part in music does anyway. The American Music Conference (AMC) cited research that studying music or making music improves our capacity to learn other subjects. This is because the brain’s thought patterns are similar to the rhythms and patterns found in music. On a similar note (get it?), playing music is good for mental development as it helps the left and right side of the brain work together.

Stress Relief // When was the last time you put on your favourite music to help you relax? Listening to music you like for 2 half-hour periods a day can significantly reduce stress and anxiety. It also decreases the amount of Cortisol produced in the brain. This is the hormone produced when we are faced with fear and triggers the “fight or flight response”. Of course there are benefits to cortisol, but if we can’t relax and go back to normal after a stressful event, we can get chronic stress – not good!

Cardiovascular // Listening to slow paced music can reduce the heart rate and blood pressure. It also has an effect on our lungs calming down the cells in the lungs causing slower breathing. A study found that this is most effective when listening to Classical, Celtic or Indian music.

Stimulation // Music with strong beat makes brainwaves resonate in sync making our concentration sharper and making us more alert. Classical music can make you focus longer and produce a calm state.

Sleep // A good night’s sleep brings a multitude of health benefits including improvements in stress, depression and anxiety. Listening to music while drifting off to sleep, helps promote good sleep and improves the quality of sleep we get.

Other benefits include the ability to improve optimism having an effect on self esteem and confidence. Music plays an obvious part in socialising and also in spiritual matters, which both promote a health mind set. Listening to music is also thought to help cancer patients easing symptoms of anxiety, nausea and vomiting. And interestingly, a study in Finland also found that music improved the recovery of stroke sufferers.

Now, with that in mind, run down to the local chemist and ask for some good tunes.

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