How Music Affects Your Health

In the 1600s, René Descartes wanted to dissect cadavers for his scientific studies. At the time, human dissection was not allowed because the prevailing religion of the time believed that damaging the body would also damage the soul. Descartes used science, philosophy, and religion to change this belief and gained access to cadavers. His ideas eventually led people to the philosophy of Mind-Body Dualism, which says that emotional, mental, and physical health (mind-body) are completely separate (dualism). 

Today, we know that our emotional, mental, and physical health are inseparable. This blog series will explore the ways our emotional, mental, and physical health are connected, and how we can use this to our advantage as we strive for better health.

Have you noticed that hearing an upbeat song can make you feel happy? Or that fast-paced music will help us push harder when we exercise? Or that a specific song brings to mind a memory, no matter how long ago that memory was?

The human mind has the innate ability to distinguish between noise and music. Almost all of the human brain shows a response to music, making scientists believe that there is much more to music and its effects than we realize. 

Research is ongoing, but most experts agree on the following ways that music improves our healthy physically, emotionally, and mentally. As said by Peter Terry and Costas Karageorghis, sports researchers, “Music has the capacity to capture attention, lift spirits, generate emotion, change or regulate mood, evoke memories, increase work output, reduce inhibitions, and encourage rhythmic movement – all of which have potential applications in sport and exercise,” and, we would argue, in life overall.

Better Mood – When we hear music that we like, our brains release dopamine, a neurochemical that makes us feel good. 

Less Stress – Relaxing music — low pitch, slow tempo, no lyrics — decreases anxiety and stress. In studies, researchers have turned on relaxing music during medical procedures (dental, surgery, colonoscopy, etc.) and seen positive results.

Enhanced Comfort – Music therapy is good for coping, communication, and expressing feelings like loneliness, anger, and fear among patients with serious illnesses or needing end-of-life care.

Less Anxiety – Research shows that cancer patients who listen to music, along with their usual care, had less anxiety than cancer patients who only received the usual care.

Better Exercise – Music can improve our aerobic exercise, heightening our physical stimulation and mental awareness. These changes improve overall exercise performance during studies.

Heightened Cognition – Music improves recall and metal abilities for patients with Alzheimer’s.

Less Pain – Research demonstrates that patients who listen to music before, during, or after surgical operations experienced less pain and were more satisfied with the results of their procedure.

Better Memory – Repetitive melodies and rhythms allow our brains to form specific patterns that improve our memories. In one study, stroke survivors listened to music during their therapy sessions and had better verbal memory and focus and less confusion.

Relaxes Premature Babies – Researchers believe that lullabies and live music could improve vital signs, sucking patterns, and feeding behaviors in premature babies. 

Less Autism Spectrum Disorder – Many children with autism spectrum disorder have better communication responses, attention skills, and social responses when they receive music therapy.

Improved Immune Response – Music helps us produce more immunoglobulin A (an antibody in the mucous system’s immunity) and natural killer cell counts, which attack and kill germs and bacteria. 

Clearly, listening to music improves our health mentally, emotionally, and physically. When do you listen to music? Never underestimate the power of what you put in your ears! 

Resources: www.gethealthystayhealthy.com, www.greatergood.berkley.edu, www.medicalnewstoday.com

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