Music is a key part of human life. It helps us to connect with those around us, and it has played a critical role in entertainment for hundreds of years.
When you’re listening to the latest Taylor Swift album or singing your heart out to your favorite songs, what you may not know is that it’s having some seriously positive effects on your health.
Maybe this is the time to start your Spotify Premium free trial, huh?
From giving you better focus to improving your mood, there’s a whole lot of evidence out there to suggest that music is giving us all so much more than a great karaoke session.
Interested in finding out more? Keep on reading for 10+ ways that music can improve your health.
Table of Contents
- 1 How Can Music Help Your Health?
- 2 What Music Is The Most Beneficial?
- 3 10+ Ways That Music Can Improve Your Health
- 3.1 Alleviates Stress
- 3.2 Stimulates Blood Flow
- 3.3 Improves Memory
- 3.4 Manages Pain
- 3.5 Improves Motivation
- 3.6 Increase Your Happiness
- 3.7 Increases The Effect Of Exercise
- 3.8 Helps Weight Loss
- 3.9 Improves Cognition
- 3.10 Encourages Faster Learning
- 3.11 Helps Individuals With Spectrum Disorders
- 4 How To Get The Most From Your Music
- 5 A Warning: Harmful Effects Of Music
- 6 Conclusion: The Sounds Of Music
How Can Music Help Your Health?
There are a plethora of ways that music is capable of helping your health. Let’s talk about the most obvious reason: the social aspect.
Since the beginning of time, one of the key reasons that music has been so important is because of how it was used to tell stories. You’ve probably heard of ballads before, songs that tell moral tales.
For so long human beings have used music as a way to connect with other people around them, to communicate feelings, thoughts, worries – you name it.
In case we didn’t already know this much, researchers have even conducted studies that have told us that one of the key roles of music is to connect us with others.
It’s true – music has this funny way of bringing us all together, from singing national anthems, to religious hymns. You may even serenade the love of your life with a guitar.
Lullabies are a way to send young children and infants to sleep. It’s a pretty powerful bonding tool. You may not think that this has an impact on your health, but the connections that we have are vital.
Feeling like you’re part of something, feeling like you’re not alone – that has a profound impact on a person’s mental health, which can impact your physical health.
Speaking of the mind, what sort of witchcraft is music capable of in that region? We’re going to go into this a little bit more later on, but music can have a profound impact on your memory, too. It can help you to concentrate better.
Take a look at your favorite music streaming service for a minute and search the phrase ‘study music’ or something like that. We assure you, you’ll find thousands of results.
This is because music can help you to remember things. Listen to a study song while memorizing a few words – it’ll be a lot easier than trying to do it without any music on at all.
Some studies have even found that music can slow cognitive decline in people that have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Music is also great for helping to treat mental illness, and it can change your mood. More on this later on!
It may surprise you to learn that music can have a pretty big impact on your physical health. If you listen to some of your favorite, funky tunes for a while and you get up and move, your heart will thank you for it!
You’ll likely find that you’re less tired, and your physical performance in various activities may even improve. Without going into the specifics yet, it’s pretty safe to say that we have a lot to thank music for in terms of our body, mind, and spirit.
What Music Is The Most Beneficial?
What music is the most beneficial for your health? Well, this largely depends on what you wish to achieve!
Are you looking to get to sleep more easily at night? Try some more relaxing tracks with a slower pace. It’s often best to find a track that doesn’t have lyrics that can distract you, and nothing that has particularly high pitches.
This kind of music can also be incredibly useful for situations where you may be prone to anxiety.
For instance, research has shown that more relaxing music can help to reduce the amount of anxiety that people have in certain situations, such as going to the dentist or having surgery.
What about if you’re exercising, or you want to improve your mood? For most people, more upbeat tracks can help with this. Hip hop, for example, is a great choice for when you’re running whether indoors or outdoors.
If you don’t like hip hop, you could possibly try rock, pop, or any other kind of song or genre that makes you feel motivated to get moving.
If you’re trying to improve your mood, listening to your favorite song can help with that. Listening to songs that reflect your mood can be cathartic and a great way to relieve stress.
If you don’t enjoy a genre like classical music, you don’t need to force yourself to listen to it if one of your old favorites is going to make you feel better.
Ultimately every person is different – while some people may find some acoustic tracks will reduce their stress, another person may find some heavy metal is more beneficial to them. Play around with music depending on what you wish to accomplish.
10+ Ways That Music Can Improve Your Health
Are you struggling with the stress of everyday life?
Trust us, we understand that feeling too!
The fact that music can help to alleviate stress may not surprise you. How does music help to reduce stress?
Well, a research project at Stanford University concluded that the act of listening to music can actually alter the way that the brain functions – pretty similarly to have a drug or prescription medication would.
Yep, it’s that powerful. This can be both a good or a bad thing, but for now, let’s talk about the good. Let’s just face it – some music can be pretty distracting, especially when you’re listening to an old favorite.
This is actually a good thing for stress as it gives you something to focus on, it gives you a way to process your emotions through the sound of a relevant tune. It’s part of the reason why music is often used during meditation.
In the Stanford study, there were some specific genres that were shown to reduce stress the most. Some examples include Celtic music, tunes that included drums, flutes and various Indian stringed instruments.
Some people also found that songs that included certain nature related sounds like thunder and rain were rather relaxing. However, you should choose something that specifically relaxes you, as your preferences will be unique.
Incorporating music into your lifestyle can help when it comes to reducing stress. For instance, simply choose the right sounds when you first start your day.
Find something that relaxes you as you have your breakfast, get dressed, brush your teeth, and generally do whatever you need to do to feel like yourself throughout the day.
Maybe you could play a CD inside of your car with some relaxing music on, or you could even listen to some music to unwind in the bath.
If you’re feeling especially stressed then you can also put on a song that you can really sing to – it’s a great way to unleash a little bit of tension!
You might even want to take a singing course, if you enjoy it. Then you can learn a skill, have fun and reduce stress all at once.
Stimulates Blood Flow
The physical impacts of music are pretty astounding.
In fact, some studies have suggested that music can help improve your blood circulation.
The study was conducted on 24 volunteers by researchers from the University of Pavia in Italy.
The researchers played classical music to the volunteers, including songs like a Bach cantata, Libiam Nei Lieti Calici from Verdi’s La Traviata, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
The results showed that blood pressure and the respiration and heart rates increased during high crescendos.
When the music was more relaxing, the opposite effect was achieved. Thus music can have a direct effect on the body.
It can also improve the flow of blood to the brain. If you needed a reason to take up learning a musical instrument, then let this convince you!
A study conducted at the University of Liverpool suggested that learning how to play a musical instrument, or having any kind of musical training, can increase the blood flow moving into the left hemisphere of the brain.
There are very few people that remember absolutely every single thing that they hear.
With that being said, you can certainly improve your memory, and listening to the right songs is a fantastic way to do this.
Let’s think about it this way. You’re in school or college, and you have a huge test coming up tomorrow.
Perhaps you’re freaking out and you haven’t started studying yet.
Meanwhile, your history test is due tomorrow and you started studying for it many months ago.
Isn’t it strange that something you studied a few months ago and recited sticks in your brain more than something you read over and over again just recently?
Repetition is important when it comes to memory, which is why we remember things easier when we’ve recited them a couple of times.
So how does music improve your memory? For starters, music stimulates your mind. Your brain essentially gets good exercise when you listen to music, and there are many studies suggesting that memory and music are linked closely.
As we’ve already mentioned, some studies have even suggested that music has a positive impact on people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
If you really want to improve your memory, taking up an instrument is a good choice as it means your body has to work on auditory cues, visual stimulation and your motor functioning all at once.
Classical music and instrumental pieces (like violin songs) in particular are especially good at helping with memory.
So how can you use this information to your advantage? Use music to your advantage! For instance, if you’re learning lines for a play or a big speech, record yourself reciting it with an instrumental or classical song in the background.
Then, listen to the recording over and over again. You may find yourself beginning to associate the song, crescendos and all, with the piece that you are trying to learn. When you remember the song, you will likely then remember the lyrics.
Are you struggling with pain?
Well, there has been evidence to suggest that listening to music is an effective pain management tool.
In 2012, a study conducted by researchers suggested that by having just two sessions a day where you listen to music can reduce symptoms of certain chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, inflammatory diseases, and other conditions.
This can make it a highly cost-effective solution for managing pain – certainly more so than taking prescription drugs.
It has been shown that if you listen to music that you associate with positive feelings, you trigger positive memories that affect how you feel and the way that you can cope with pain.
Of course, listening to music isn’t going to make pain just disappear, especially if you have a chronic condition. With that being said, it can certainly help you to manage it and get through the day.
In a 2015 study, it was found that listening to music before, during or after surgery has a big impact on pain and anxiety.
It was especially helpful before surgery. It was also found that the pain management was a little bit better when people were enabled to choose their own music too.
We imagine you’ve probably been there before. You’ve listened to a track that really gets you motivated to do something.
Whether that’s studying for your test, cleaning out the garbage or motivating you to do something that you’ve been putting off for a while.
Music has the capability to energize us. This is a result of the way that music interacts with our sympathetic nervous symptoms.
By engaging with this system, the body becomes prepared to act in certain situations. In essence, music piques our interests and readies our responses.
When you listen to certain music, it makes your heart rate accelerate and gets your body ready for physical movements, so it’s not just a psychological effect that music can have on you.
We’ll cover this a little bit later on, but this plays a part in why music is so important for helping you to get a good workout.
Science aside, how can we use music to get us motivated to do things – even the things that maybe we don’t really want to do? There are a few ways that you can use the motivation of music to your advantage.
If you want to motivate yourself to work out, you could put on something more upbeat, a song that you usually associate with exercising that gets you pumped to get moving.
If you want to be motivated to study, perhaps put on a song that inspires you, something that helps you to focus. For instance, you could listen to some classical music. Think about the songs that encourage you to do certain things.
Increase Your Happiness
You probably know this already but in case you didn’t, music can have a huge effect on your overall mood.
You’ve probably been there before. You’re sitting in the office, perhaps your coworker or your boss has upset you. All of a sudden your favorite song comes on the radio and your mood is improved massively.
Maybe you’ve recently been through a break up and listening to a break up song while you cry into a tub of Ben and Jerrys has improved your mood.
The point is, music is a pretty powerful medium through which we process our emotions. We can sometimes even associate certain musical tracks with events, as we mentioned earlier when talking about memory.
So, if you used to listen to a certain song with your best friend on a fun road trip, it may make you happy every time you hear that song going forward
One particular study suggested that listening to positive music can turn the average person’s mood around in a space of two weeks.
Some participants were told to improve their mood by listening to positive tracks, whereas others were told to listen to music but weren’t specifically told to do it to make themselves happier.
The ones who made a conscious effort to feel better by listening to music said that they felt happier just two weeks later.
In addition to just generally improving our mood, music also does two other things.
Reduce Symptoms Of Depression
Did you know that there’s a form of therapy out there that relies on music to alleviate different mental health concerns?
Well, there are good reasons for that.
Listening to and playing music can actually help to reduce symptoms of depression.
Researchers have found a number of different benefits of music therapy for people that struggle with mental health issues, including:
- Improved self-esteem
- Reduced anxiety
- A safe way to express and feel emotions
- Better relationships with others
- Improved motivation
As far as science is concerned, listening to music can often release oxytocin. This is commonly known to be a hormone associated with love and trust. It’s a big part of treating issues related to mood such as depression.
So what about if a depressed person listens to sad music? It’s actually a pretty common thing and a lot of people suffering with depression reported that listening to sad music made them feel more soothed and positive.
For this reason, creating playlists that align with your mood can sometimes make you feel better if you struggle with depression, though this is not always the case.
Boosts Dopamine Level
When you’re listening to your music, you get a good rush of those happy hormones! That’s right – Dopamine.
A lot of research has suggested that dopamine is released in the brain when we listen to music that makes us feel particularly emotional.
It’s released when we hear dramatic musical moments that give us chills, and it’s also released when we’re mentally preparing for those moments to arrive.
The next time you listen to someone singing those high notes in a musical theater track and you get goosebumps, you know it’s because your brain is releasing dopamine.
Increases The Effect Of Exercise
Listening to music can have a huge effect on exercise.
As we’ve already discussed, music can motivate you to move and get yourself to the gym, but how does it influence you when you’re actually in the gym?
For starters, you actually work harder when you exercise to faster songs.
It also provides a fantastic distraction so you’re more likely to keep exercising for longer.
In addition to this, when you feel happier you are also more likely to want to work out.
Some research has even suggested that listening to music can affect how well you recover after an intense sweat session.
It’s possible to reduce your heart rate when you listen to slower songs, and this is partially why it’s so common for instructors to play slow songs during the cool down section of a work out class.
Music can make your coordination much better too as our motor skills are enhanced when we listen to music during exercise.
This should come as little surprise when you think about how well coordinated most dancers are! A piece of music gives you a set rhythm to follow which can help you to keep time better.
In addition, it can also improve your endurance and performance.
Improves Endurance And Performance
Listening to music can actually have a big impact on your performance and endurance when you’re exercising.
For instance, you’re going for a run and you’re trying to beat your previous record.
Perhaps you want to run a 5K in less than 30 minutes.
If you want a way to encourage you to work a little harder, then put a song with a strong rhythmic beat on.
Some scientific studies have suggested that this can help many athletes to improve their pace when walking and running.
It’s also been found that runners for example are more likely to continue exercising and are more likely to stick it out if they listen to the right track. If you are planning on going for a run, look for some songs that have a tempo ranging from 125 and 140 bpm.
There are a few reasons why listening to the right songs while you exercise can have such a big impact on your performance. For starters, you don’t feel like you’re working as hard when you’re listening to work – your whole perception on the exertion changes.
You don’t feel like you’re making as much of an effort because you’re preoccupied with the music that’s playing. You’re also less likely to notice your physical responses to exercise, such as sweating, muscle soreness and more.
Helps Weight Loss
Weight loss is a simple matter of calories in and calories out in most instances.
We’ve already covered the calories out section – music motivates you to work out and makes you more likely to work harder and longer when you get to the gym.
This in turn can affect the number of calories that you burn.
But what about the calories in aspect – how does music influence that?
You may find this surprising, but listening to music can actually affect what you put in your mouth. Listening to calm, relaxing music can often help you to lose weight!
One particular study showed that people that were eating at restaurants with soft music playing would eat 18% less than people that ate in other restaurant settings.
Listening to softer music while you’re eating can help you to feel more relaxed and comfortable. This means that you will also be more likely to eat your food slowly, something that has been proven to help with satiety.
It helps you to concentrate on what it is that you’re meeting, bringing a greater sense of mindfulness.
So, next time you’re eating your dinner, perhaps put a little bit of classical or acoustic music on in the background to help you to reach your weight loss goals!
Don’t put the volume on too high, however – you don’t want to damage your ears, and you don’t want it to be too distracting.
If you’re struggling to study for that big test and all the words that you’re reading in front of you all look like a big blur, then it may be time to put some tunes on.
There are many studies out there that have suggested that playing music in the background can be incredibly helpful when you’re trying to concentrate on something else.
The processing speed improved when listening to upbeat music, whereas listening to more downbeat or upbeat music when doing the same task can improve a person’s memory.
The key takeaway here, though, is to listen to background music. So not necessarily something that you know all the words to, or something that you would sing to in the shower.
These sorts of musical tracks can be a little bit of a distraction, which is the last thing that you need when you’re trying to focus on something.
With that being said, not every person works well with having music on in the background when trying to focus on a task. For instance, if you are the kind of person that relies upon external stimulation, it can be problematic to put music on.
If you get bored easily, you may try to focus on the background music instead of what you’re trying to concentrate on. If you’re the kind of person that doesn’t need external stimulation, music may be a good choice for you.
It’s not a one size fits all situation – you need to consider what you are likely to respond to best.
Encourages Faster Learning
For children, music can be a beneficial tool for learning. In fact, putting music on in the classroom can help many people to learn a lot faster.
The music essentially creates a soundtrack to help with learning.
This soundtrack can then translate into the student becoming more interested in the subject matter, and this means that the child is more likely to retain the information.
In addition to this, music can have a huge impact on how focused we are during an activity, further encouraging us to retain information.
Have you ever sat down as an adult and suddenly a hymn or a song that you learned in school pops into your head? Memory and music are directly linked, which in turn can enhance learning.
Helps Individuals With Spectrum Disorders
Music therapy is increasingly used to engage people that have spectrum disorders, and for good reason.
It’s a highly effective way to help people that struggle with mental and emotional challenges.
Music has been shown to help improve certain skills in people with spectrum disorders, including enhancing sensory skills, social skills, communication, motor skills and self reliance.
Music therapy enables people with spectrum disorders to communicate with others as they play instruments and need to work in tandem with those around them.
The act of dancing to music can help them to bond with others. Dancing and music have helped people socialize throughout the history of music.
It can also be quite helpful to people that struggle with certain sensory aversions to be able to deal with their sensitivity to sounds.
It’s especially good to use music therapy as an early intervention for children, allowing them to bond with those around them and to learn in an engaging way. So buy them a guitar and drastically improve their quality of life.
How To Get The Most From Your Music
So now that you know about all of the advantages that music can bring to your health and wellbeing, how do you use this information to your advantage? How do you get the most from your music?
It’s very useful to create playlists based on what you wish to achieve. For instance, are you looking to study? Compile a list of songs together that you know will help you to focus while you’re studying.
If you need to find some inspiration, you can look up songs for studying online and you will often get plenty of suggestions.
Looking to workout? Compile a list of songs that help to get you pumped to exercise. Look for some songs that are more upbeat. If you want to run, look for some songs that have around 120 beats per minute to help you to keep a good pace.
If you’re feeling upset or angry, it can often help to listen to songs that reflect your mood and to sing your heart out. Alternatively, you could listen to a more upbeat song, grab some friends over your house and take some time to dance to lift your spirits.
If you’re struggling with your mental health or a physical ailment like a chronic illness, it may be worth attending music therapy.
Check online to see if there are any practitioners in your area. Some places even do group music therapy to give you an opportunity to meet other people going through the same things as you.
A Warning: Harmful Effects Of Music
While music is a very effective way of improving your health, it is not without its own issues. There are some things that you should keep in mind when you are listening to music to ensure that you remain safe and happy.
Music Can Damage The Ears
When you’ve put your headphones on and connected them to your phone, you’ve probably seen some pop-ups on your phone warning you not to play your music too loud. Yet, we often do it anyway – sometimes you just need to blast those tracks to really feel the music deeply.
Sometimes even our family members have reminded us that we need to turn the music down. The problem is if we keep ignoring these messages we may end up harming our ears.
Each and every time you blast loud music in your ears you are influencing the internal structure of the ear.
Unfortunately, this can eventually result in you losing your hearing altogether. If you’re young then you may not be too concerned about this – after all, it’s years until your hearing disappears.
Unfortunately, there are some people that can struggle with their hearing even in their teenage years. It’s best not to take the chance and turn your tunes down – just a fraction!
It Can Sometimes Negatively Influence Your Creativity
Scientists at the University of Central Lancashire, Lancaster University and the University of Gavle in Sweden have found that playing background music while practicing creative tasks can actually impair their abilities to produce results.
On the flip side, people in the same study that worked in a quiet environment found that they performed better than those that had background music. That’s probably why libraries are so silent, huh?
Not only that but listening to some music can even distract you from your work. If you know the words to a song with lyrics then you may be more inclined to sing along with the song, or you may want to actively listen to the lyrics instead of working.
In this circumstance, it can actually negatively impact your productivity.
It Can Sometimes Make You Feel Bad
As you can probably imagine, while music has the ability to make you feel happy, it can also have the opposite effect. Some studies have suggested that listening to sad music too much can even change the way that you think.
Sometimes it really is possible that a sad song can make you even sadder than before you listened to it.
Certain songs may also bring back negative memories too. Perhaps a certain song reminds you of an ex-partner or of somebody that passed away, so it may make you upset or angry every time that you hear it.
Some particularly angry songs may make you feel even more fired up! Music can even affect your relationships in a negative way if you aren’t careful.
Conclusion: The Sounds Of Music
If you were looking for another reason why you should listen to your favorite playlists or take some time to groove to your favorite songs, let this be it. Music can have a bunch of positive effects on your life, from encouraging you to lead a healthier lifestyle to improving your mood.
Of course, you should still be careful that you don’t end up making your mood worse by listening to sad songs on repeat, but if you want a way to motivate yourself and feel better, perhaps it’s time to blast some happy songs on the radio!