Music is a part of all cultures. Many different instruments and combinations of instruments are used to create a wide variety of music. Sometimes vocals are included, other times not. Whether you compose, play it or simply listen to some sort of music, your health can benefit in several ways.
Adapted from Pixabay
Firstly one may ask if certain types of music bring about more health benefits than others. Studies done by the Max Planck Institute suggest the type of music is not important so long as the listener finds it uplifting. However, some research has been restricted to the effect of listening to classical music or tunes generally considered soothing. The results of this type of research make claims of the benefits of classical or soothing music which may also be relevant to other forms of music.
Research suggests music can benefit your health by: 1. Reducing stress and anxiety
2. Decreasing pain
3. Strengthening the immune system
4. Improving memory function
Reducing stress and anxiety Prolonged stress has a detrimental effect on an individual's health. Music can calm the mind and reduce stress with no negative side effects. Medication on the other hand, may be effective but have unwanted side effects.
Listening to or playing enjoyable music reduces the release of cortisol, sometimes called the stress hormone. One of the benefits of less cortisol is that it tends to be easier to sleep, and feeling less stressed is likely to result from a good night's sleep.
Playing an instrument reduces the release of cortisol, the stress hormone. Courtesy of Pixabay
It was found cancer patients involved in a study conducted at Drexel University (USA) had lower anxiety levels if they participated in music therapy or listened to music regularly.
A piece of music which reminds a person of a positive event can reduce anxiety. Sometimes women choose to listen to their favourite music during childbirth to reduce the perception of pain and feel less anxiety.
The brain releases dopamine, the ‘feel good’ chemical, when you listen to music you enjoy. Research shows when participants listen to music with a slow beat their brainwaves slow down and this can result in a relaxed meditative type of state.
Decreasing Pain Music can help lessen the amount of pain felt. Research has shown people who listen to music after heart surgery experience less anxiety and feel less pain than those who rest in silence.
In a study carried out in 2012 it was found listening to a session of music twice a day provided the participants with relief from the chronic pain of various neurological conditions,.fibromyalgia and inflammatory disease. It also brought relief from the anxiety and depression associated with chronic pain.
When music triggers happy memories it affects a patient's mood and helps them handle pain. Pleasant memories also make it seem time is passing more quickly.
Listening to music can help reduce the amount of pain felt. Image: Marie Vonow
Strengthening the immune system Research shows playing or listening to music has the effect of boosting the immune system by:
Increasing the number of the cells that attack cancerous cells and bacteria.
Increasing the level of Immunoglobal A, an antibody important in the prevention of infection.
Reducing the level of cortisol. When cortisol is released for an extended period of time it reduces the body's ability to fight off infection. Therefore reducing the cortisol level brings positive results for the immune system.
Listening to music boosts the immune system Courtesy of Pixabay
Improving memory function It has been found music activates all parts of the brain. Listening to music or playing an instrument provides exercise for the brain and helps improve memory, keeping the brain 'sharp'.
Studies done involving people suffering a degree of brain damage have found they benefit from listening to familiar music which may even trigger some memories that they are then able to retain.
Research shows music with a fast beat improves concentration, making the listener more mentally alert. Many people instinctively choose upbeat music when they want to stay awake or concentrate on a task such as study.
Listening to music has many health benefits and there are none of the negative side effects which can result from medication. There are numerous ways to access music for free so it is also very cost effective.