The Healing Powers of Music

Whether you prefer jamming out to rock and roll, grooving to jazz or relaxing to classical, music can often be just what you need to brighten up your day. But listen to this: While your favorite music provides a shot of acoustic pleasure, it also has a very real impact on your everyday health and fitness.

The role of music in improving health has been studied extensively, whether as a way to reduce anxiety or manage physical and mental health. Regardless of the goal, the key according to several studies is simply choosing music you’re most familiar with or like best. While there’s no one style of music that works for everyone, listening to the tunes you enjoy the most or those that bring you back to a positive experience can boost your body and mind in several ways:

  • Eases physical pain: Throwing on your favorite tracks can provide an easy distraction that increases your ability to tolerate pain. It’s actually more effective at doing so than other distractions, such as seeing vivid images or beautiful landscapes.
  • Improves mental performance: Listening to music engages the whole brain and can boost your memory and recall (though findings are mixed on its ability to improve your test scores). It has also been shown as an effective treatment for improving recall in those with dementia.
  • Enhances sleep quality: Listening to music, particularly slower tracks around 60 beats per minute, can help you relax, get to sleep faster and experience more restful sleep. In one study, participants reported a 35 percent improvement in sleep quality (length and restfulness) after listening to calming music around bedtime.
  • Helps heart health and blood pressure: The relaxing effect of music applies to the body as well as the mind. Listening to your favorite music can relax the blood vessels, regulating heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Fights stress and boost immune function: Those who often listen to music may see lower levels of stress-induced cortisol. Reduced stress and anxiety can also lead to increased levels of disease fighting antibodies in the system, improving immune function.

How has music improved your health? Let us know in the comments below. And check out the following blog posts for more on the powers of music:

Photo credit: Katie Mollon

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