4 ways music makes you healthier
If you love jamming out to your favorite tunes, good news – you’re improving your health! Luke Holden, PA-C, explained four ways music helps you live healthier.
Music helps us stick with exercise.
For many who exercise regularly, music provides a great psychological benefit. It can prevent a workout from feeling long and difficult and inspire you to work out again.
“There has been a great deal of research on the effects of music and exercise,” Holden said. “Data does not show a clear benefit in the technical aspects of exercising, such as lifting more weight, running faster or feeling less tired. However, there is an increased rate of adherence. People who listen to music exercise longer.”
Music lowers stress.
“Stress is something we all face. In moderation, it’s helpful, prompting us to get things done. But, like all things, in excess it can lead to unnecessary anxiety and cause poor performance. Music can help reduce that anxiety,” Holden said.
For example, in one study, undergrads prepared for an oral presentation. The control group prepared their speeches without music present and the experimental subjects prepared their speeches with classical music playing in the background. Researchers measured several markers, such as heart rate, IgA salivary enzymes, blood pressure, cortisol levels and subjective measures of anxiety. Students who prepared their presentations in the context of music showed significant reduction in stress symptoms as compared to those who did not.
Music helps our brain health.
Dancing has proved to help those with dementia. In a study with senior citizens over the course of 21 years, researchers noted that frequent dancing reduced the risk of developing dementia. Dancing proved to be better than reading and doing crosswords puzzles at least four days a week.
“This is because of the cognitive load required to perform dancing,” Holden said. “It requires memory, balance, and all the while you are developing emotional memories to go with it. This is because it is an active form brain activity. And it’s fun!”
Music helps us thrive.
Holden said anxiety and depression are but the tip of the iceberg regarding conditions that benefit from music. “It was shown that listening to music helped babies thrive more while in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), especially when parents sang to their babies. This spans beyond the pediatric world and into the adult world of chronic pain.”
He said there are organizations and self-help books that focus on music therapy as ways of managing pain and anxiety. For more information about how music therapy can help you, talk to your primary care provider.
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