Have you ever heard about music therapy? If not, you have probably noticed you feel better after listening to your favorite music. Whatever pleases us can be used for therapy purposes, and music is definitely one of the best choices when you need to lift your morale or even get over illness more easily. Curious about it? Keep on reading to find out exactly how music can benefit your health.
Experiencing happiness is not directly a health benefit, but feeling happy definitely helps you become healthier. Researchers have discovered that people who listen to music they like feel better because their brain releases dopamine, a substance which makes us feel happiness, joy, and excitement. Just a 15-minute music listening session can make a great difference for your morale.
Pain is a subjective experience, which means it can be influenced by all kinds of factors, and one of them seems to be music. Music can reduce the perceived intensity of pain and is being used in geriatric care, palliative medicine, and intensive care units.
Motivating people to exercise more
People who run or bike often listen to music because it encourages them to work harder. You enjoy the music more, but at the same time you are more involved in your exercises and burning more calories, according to studies.
Aside from making the body release dopamine, music also helps decreasing levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Listening to music you enjoy helps you counteract the effects of chronic stress. This is great, given the fact that stress is held accountable for 60% of illnesses and diseases. Moreover, if you sing or play an instrument, your immune system is boosted more than in people who just listen to music.
If you have trouble sleeping or getting a good night’s sleep, you should consider listening to music before going to bed, preferably classical music. This type of routine produces better results than listening to an audiobook and is definitely better than sticking to your normal routine (like checking your smartphone before going to sleep or watching TV). So, music is a safer and cheaper alternative to sleep-inducing meds.
Helping with post-workout recovery
If you don’t listen to music while exercising, you should consider this form of therapy after your workout session is complete. A study found that music helps the body recover faster after a workout. It’s not just about relaxation – apparently music will speed up the physical recovery process.
Reducing food intake
You eat in front of the TV and you replenish your plate several times, until your stomach almost explodes? Consider a new habit: dim the lights and play soft music during meals and you will end up consuming less food. This is possible because this ritual allows you to pay more attention to fullness cues. At the same time, you perceive flavors and textures better and enjoy your food more.
The habit of listening to classical music or to meditative tunes before going to bed can also help with depression, aside from fostering good sleep. A study showed that symptoms of depressions decreased significantly in people who listened to classical music at bedtime. The type of music also matters – techno and heavy metal music will have the opposite effect and make you feel worse.
Improving driving performance
Cars would be very boring without a radio or music player, do you agree? Listening to music while driving has a positive impact on your mood, and this can lead a safer behavior in traffic, according to a study conducted in the Netherlands.
Inducing a meditative state
Say you have never tried meditation? Think again. If you listen to music with slow beats, you have completed an activity similar to meditation. This type of music induces a slower brainwave speed, which is similar to when a person is meditating or in a hypnotic state.
Improving cognitive performance
Scientists have discovered that people taking a test while listening to music were able to complete more work in the time allotted and provide the correct answer to more questions. The general consensus is that music first improves your emotional state, and as a result allows you to focus better on cognitive tasks.
Music has a positive effect on anxiety levels and has been found to be just as effective as a massage.
Relaxing patients before and after surgery
Nobody feels at ease while waiting to be taken to the operating room and anesthetized. However, you can get over this stressful moment more easily if you listen to music before surgery. Listening to music after surgery also helps patients relax and feel less stressed.
Helping stroke patients to recover
A study conducted in Finland shows that stroke patients who listened to music for two hours a day benefited from significant positive effects: their verbal memory and attention were improved and their mood was better compared to patients who listened to audio books or did not listen to music or sounds at all.
Helping Alzheimer’s patients remember
People suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementias can remember who they are after listening to their favorite songs. People who can barely speak and are wheelchair-bound can remember about their life when listening to songs from their era. This suggests that music can stimulate pathways which are still healthy and affects multiple areas of the brain. Given that one in three seniors develops a form of dementia, music is an affordable and effective solution for connecting them with loved ones and making them feel better.
In the end, consider this quote from a famous musician: “Music has healing power. It has the ability to take people out of themselves for a few hours.” (Elton John). So, if you are feeling under the weather today or recovering from an illness, listen to your favorite tunes and feel how both your body and soul start to cure!