Sound Reasons Why Music Is Good for Your Health
It’s no doubt that music has a special effect on us. It can relax or excite us, depending on what we choose to listen to. Music stimulates our brains and is a healthy and natural means of expression. Listening to music enhances us cognitively, socially, emotionally and physically.
Personally, my life revolves around music. I wake up to music, I go to work listening to music and I perform music. Like many people, I took piano lessons as a child. I also played the viola in middle school. I had to memorize Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto for a concert and whenever I hear that song, fond memories of my youth return. I love the intricacies of the piece; it’s simply brilliant. As an adult, I teach piano to children. I love seeing their eyes widen and smiles cross their faces when I play for them. Likewise, it’s a joy to watch them learn a new piece and perfect it. Teaching music keeps my mind active.
“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.” – Singer and songwriter, Billy Joel
Many Cultures In History Have Believed That Music Has Healing Properties
The Aboriginal people of Australia believed that the use of an instrument called a yidaki (now called a didgeridoo) could heal broken bones, muscle tears and illnesses.1
In ancient Greece, Pythagoras was the father of music therapy. He taught the use of flute and lyre and believed that when used in accompaniment with chant singing, these instruments helped cure anger and aggression. 1
In biblical times, music was a form of praise. People believed that music had the power to perform miracles, to heal and to bring about transformation. Rhythm was the ancient language. In fact, music is mentioned in the Bible more than 800 times.2
Studies Reveal the Effects of Music On Our Health
Listening to music has a way of lifting us from a bad mood, motivating us to work and helping us fall sleep. It can also heal us, I believe.
Results from a study performed by researchers at the University of Maryland demonstrated that when listeners heard music that they found joyful, their blood vessels dilated, resulting in lowered blood pressure. Researchers speculated that the music experienced as joyful is somehow connected to the brain’s natural painkillers known as endorphins.3
Researchers of a study led by David H. Bradshaw, PhD, from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City found that, “Engaging activities like music listening may be most effective for reducing pain in high-anxiety persons who can easily become absorbed in activities.” The study did not look at different types of music and whether soothing music worked best. Dr. Bradshaw says the type of music isn’t as important as how well it holds the patient’s interest.4
“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Berthold Auerbach
Music has been shown to lift the moods of depressed patients. Researchers in Finland concluded that individual music therapy combined with standard treatment is effective among working-age people with depression. Researchers believe the addition of music therapy allows people to better express their emotions and reflect on their inner feelings. Music therapy also appeared to provide a method to allow people to let go, or to release suppressed feelings.5
The elderly can benefit from music therapy, particularly patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Care programs incorporate music therapy for patients after discovering that music seems to invoke memories and responses thought to be buried and gone forever, as well as restore some cognitive function.6
Music Can Calm the Mind
In a study from Tzu Chi University in Taiwan, new nurses with high stress levels were randomly assigned to listen to slow, soothing music or to simply rest quietly. Those in the music group reported feeling less stressed, and they also had lower blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormone levels.7
When I need to wind down from a busy day or fall asleep, I plug into my iPod where I have several songs that have a BPM (beats per minute) of less than 70. Sixty bpm is the ideal rate of a resting heart. Music with low bpm will synchronize with your heart beat and brainwaves.
Music that Motivates
On the flip side, I also have music that I listen to when I exercise. Songs with 140-160 BPM of are ideal to get your heart pumping.
To find out the BPM of your favorite songs, simply go to http://songbpm.com/. Type in the name of the song and it will give you the beats per minute.
Some favorite songs that I like to listen to while briskly walking or dancing include: “Wake Me Up” by Avicii; “Kill the Moonlight” by Spoon; “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” by Billy Joel and “Get Down Tonight” by KC and the Sunshine Band. I also like the following country music: “Turn on the Radio” by Reba McEntire and “Undo It” by Carrie Underwood.
Music Is Powerful
Listening to music can reduce stress by calming and soothing us. It can help us exercise by motivating us to work out longer and harder. And, it can promote sleep. Next time you have a surgical procedure, ask your doctor if you can have pleasant music played in the background. See if it doesn’t help you relax and recuperate faster. Also, play relaxing music in your workplace and see if it helps you be more productive. Give it a try.
How does music affect you? When do you listen to music and why? Do you have a favorite playlist? We would love for you to share your favorite songs with us and spread the joy of music.