7 Ways Music Is Good For Our Health

By  6 Comments

“One good thing about music is when it hits you, you feel no pain.”   Bob Marley

Music is pretty big in my life, and probably in yours.  As I write this I am waiting to watch my favorite band’s set be live-streamed from Lollapalooza, a festival in Chicago (my favorite because my son is playing). It is raining cats and dogs!  It looks like a monsoon! Still, I see thousands and thousands of people outside, singing and dancing, hands waving in the air, cellphones taking photos, yelling and screaming, having a wonderful time. They’ve been there all weekend, they don’t mind getting VERY wet – they’re just having fun.  And I am having a great time watching them and tapping my feet to the beat.

I’ll bet they don’t know though that listening to music they love can improve their health. SHHHH – DON’T TELL THEM, it might make them enjoy themselves less.

How DOES music affect our health?? 

We all know of course that people run faster on the treadmill to faster music, and so music helps us with our fitness that way.  We know that music can lift our mood – or make us feel sad or anxious – movie soundtracks are made with this in mind.  And, we sing babies to sleep with lullabies.

A little light reading brought me to some other interesting things I did not know.

1. Activity – it will probably come as no surprise that listening to music will increase our activity level, any music with any rhythmic beat will do that, but the faster the music (up to a point) the more it makes us move, and even moving in our chairs is helpful.

2. Appetite – Did you that soft music and dim lights make us eat less?  One Cornell University study showed that diners at a fast food restaurant actually ate less when they were randomly selected to eat in a nice dining room with candlelight, and soft music, instead of in in the ordinary restaurant dining room with bright lights and bright colors. The researchers predicted that people in nice dining room would eat more, since they were at the restaurant longer, had a chance to want dessert and such, but they actually ate an average of 175 fewer calories!

3. Cardio – Did you know that listening to (any) music you enjoy increases your blood flow and reduces your blood pressure?   A while back I wrote an article on the healing benefits of laughter and I was delighted to find that laughter actually increased blood flow and oxygen and reduced blood pressure, along with most of the other things music will do for us. Then, this weekend, I read an article about a 6-8 month study that reported the same cardio benefits when listening to enjoyable music!  In this study they actually measured the effect of music the blood vessels and found that they expanded with enjoyable music and contracted with music that made the subjects anxious.  I am thinking that this could be related to the fact that music lights up the same pleasure centers of our brain as do food and sex…and laughter.

4. Metabolism – Did you know that listening to music can increase – or decrease- your metabolism? I read a story of a woman who claimed to have lost 100 pounds just by listening to the music of Croatian musicians “2 CELLOS” intnsively every day, without changing her lifestyle otherwise. She just loved to hear them play and was very surprised when the weight came off.   They play upbeat modern pop and rock music adaptations on the cello and she couldn’t get enough of their music.

That started me looking for a research link between music and metabolism – and I found this NIH study that said music can indeed directly affect our metabolism, affect the way food moves through our gut, affect our energy levels, and more.  These things happen because music can affect the nervous system that then controls these body processes.

5. Pain – Did you know that many studies show that listening to music reduces pain sensations?  Many surgeons are even using music now in the operating room.  What kind of music works best? The kind you enjoy!

6. Sleep – Did you know that listening to music at night could help you get a better night’s sleep (which in turn boosts your metabolism?)?   A meta-analysis of studies showed that listening to slow-medium tempo music you enjoy – with low pitches and tranquil melodies – can reliably increase both the length and depth of our sleep.   This boosts memory, metabolism, immune system and more.

7. Stress – Listening to music can reduce stress – and that pesky cortisol that keeps the weight from coming off and makes all kinds of mischief through inflammation in the body. This one is purely a matter of personal taste, but music has an affect not only on relaxation but also on those unruly negative thoughts that can cause the stress in the first place.  What music? The music that relaxes me drives my grandson up a wall and vise versa, but listening to plenty of what you enjoy will reduce your stress levels every time. It does not have to be meditative music…although reducing the speed of your brain waves through meditation is certainly another excellent way to reduce stress.

Isn’t it wonderful to learn that something we all love so much can also be so good for us for a change?  

6 Comments

  1. Sissy

    I’ve had a really difficult life, and yet a lot of people would consider me lucky. Despite all the challenges I’ve had, I still find a way of popping up and succeeding. I have a secret. No matter what I’m doing, I’m always listening to music.

    Many times, I’m just listening to music play in my head. My job requires that I work in very, very stressful environments, moving from place to place. There are people there who are victimized, injured, or challenged in their own way. Even if there is no way to listen to music while the drama is unfolding, I noticed after awhile that I always had a tune playing in my head when I got into the car to leave. Also when I’m just doing dishes or any other activity.

    I think that without music in my life, I would have caved under the pressure long ago. But I seem to be one of the more balanced, authentic people in my line of work. I bounce back faster and seem to be able to relax and recuperate better than many others around me. In fact, I seem to be some kind of strength for others in my profession.

    All of us have our favorite songs, as well as songs that bring us back to break-ups, happy moments, and significant eras in our lives. I’m very happy that I’ve always had the ability to remember music and that it seems to play automatically for me. I don’t remember ever trying to develop this skill; it just happened. I do write from time to time, but nothing too deep or really salable. I’m just appreciative that I’ve gotten so many benefits from artists who have touched me so very deeply.

  2. Sarah Richardson

    Music always makes my day better. I find it really helps with stress.

  3. Amanda

    I didn’t know any of these, but they don’t surprise me at all! The benefits of music are incredible, it has an ability like no other to make me feel great. In fact, when I’m feeling stressed or am just having a bad day, sometimes it feels like my iPod is a magnet just drawing me toward it, as if my body knows that I need music. Also, I’m absolutely intrigued by the woman who claims to have lost 100 pounds from listening to “2 CELLOS.” That’s a story I’m definitely going to have to read!

  4. Veronica

    Whenever I hear a catchy song, I always feel the need to jump around, dancing like crazy. In most cases, just listening Daft Punk or Swedish House Mafia, get’s me pumping and in the mood to workout. I can be super bummed or super tired, if I hear a nice tune, I always feel like getting my dumbbells out and doing some serious squats.

    I use an alarm clock with radio so I always start my day with a smile on my face; if you like electronic music, check Ibiza global radio, they have awesome music nonstop.

    Surround yourself with music and your day will have a whole new vibe.

  5. Amanda

    Music helps me a lot when I have to work on something at my PC. Sometimes I might feel the need for quiet but usually I love to listen to music because it stimulates my brain and I seem to make better decisions. I also like to have music playing in the background while I do different chores around the house.

  6. Laura

    Music has always helped me through everything. It seems to help anytime I’m in a bad mood. I find that it also helps when I have a lot of school work to do.

Have Your Say!