13 Jan Health: 5 good reasons to listen to music
Listening to music can help reduce anxiety, pain or motivation to play sports. Music acts on the brain’s reward system and stimulates the release of dopamine, which makes us feel better. So… here’s to your playlists!a
Music has its place in health; thus, music therapy, supervised by a trained therapist, can help patients suffering from psychological disorders or serious illnesses to feel better. But simply listening to music at home can also bring many benefits. Here are five health benefits of music.
Music is motivating and a source of pleasure
Music can convey positive emotions. It provides a feeling of pleasure by acting on the reward system, thanks to the dopaminergic neurons that release dopamine in the brain. Proof that music softens the mood, a study has shown that listening to music in the car has a positive effect on drivers’ moods.
Music reduces stress and anxiety
Music is believed to help reduce stress-induced elevated heart rate, hypertension and cortisol levels, all of which are markers of stress. For example, in a study published in 2009, the day after heart surgery, patients listened to 30 minutes of soft, relaxing MP3 music in bed; others rested in bed for the same amount of time. There was a significant difference in cortisol levels between the two groups after these thirty minutes: 484.4 mmol/L with the music and 618.8 mmol/L in the controls. In another study, music was even more effective than an anxiolytic in reducing anxiety in patients undergoing surgery.
Music helps reduce pain
In a small 2013 study, fibromyalgia patients listened to music once a day for four weeks. Compared to a control group, those who listened to music reported less pain. In another study, 60 patients scheduled for spinal surgery listened to music from the day before surgery until two days after surgery. Listening to music reduced pain, as well as anxiety, before and after surgery.
Music promotes memory and cognitive function.
Because music helps motivate, it can also help with learning. In a 2014 study, students learning a foreign language, Hungarian, were asked to speak or sing phrases in Hungarian. The group that sang remembered the phrases better. Because music and singing have positive effects on mood and memory, a music therapy program, Music and Memory, was developed for patients with dementia such as Alzheimer’s. The program is designed to help patients with dementia.
A small study of 56 students showed that background music (in this case classical music) can improve performance on a cognitive test. However, the type of music listened to probably plays a role.
Music helps with sports
In a British study, participants had to listen to music while walking on a treadmill until exhaustion. Compared to people who did not listen to music, those who did this exercise with music had more stamina. Music may have acted as a motivator. Another hypothesis is that music distracts us from thinking about the effort. This is suggested by a small study of obese youth who trained on a mat: being distracted by music allowed them to run longer.