Listening to music is (usually) a very enjoyable past time. Of course we all have wildly different tastes in music and one man’s rock and roll is another man’s country and western.
But when we listen to our favourite kind of music, there’s no doubt that it’s a pleasurable and relaxing experience. We lose ourselves in it and go into a seemingly different realm. And now it seems that music can even boost our health.
Scans have shown that music stimulates the brain
What’s really interesting is that music (if it’s your preferred genre) decreases activity in the areas associated with vision and the focus is firmly focused on listening. This explains why we tend to “lose” ourselves in enjoyable music.
Much is still being learnt and researched on the effect of music on the brain, but music therapy is thought to be a possible aid in stroke recovery.
You can use music to de-stress and lift your mood
I think we all know how good it feels to listen to our favourite type of music. One of the reasons for this is the release of dopamine when listening, which gives a mood boost. At the same time our cortisol levels drop making us feel less stressed.
These factors can also help reduce anxiety and even help reduce depression. However when it comes to low mood or depression, don’t listen to sad music or you’ll feel worse. It would seem that regularly listening to upbeat type music is going to make us feel a whole lot better.
Music can aid memory and learning
Studies have shown that people listening to classical music while trying to memorise something, outperformed those who listened to no music. I’m definitely going to try this out next time I’m learning a script!
Music is now also being used with dementia patients as it’s thought to slow down cognitive decline.
A happy heart is a healthy heart
Yup even your heart loves music it seems, as it can lower blood pressure and make your heart rate drop. In fact, even after very fast tempo music when your heart feels like it’s racing, afterwards your blood pressure will be lower.
Exercise and music go well together
As many a jogger will tell you, listening to music makes it all a lot easier and gives a surge of energy to help with the run. This is also the reason why so many people in the gym have headphones on and exercise classes are always accompanied by loud music. It boosts athletic performance and has been shown to inspire runners to run faster than normal.
Singing can lower inflammation
And then there’s singing and chanting. These stimulate the vagus nerve which activates the parasympathetic nervous system and actually drives down inflammation. Inflammation, of course, being the root cause of most disease.
They still don’t fully understand the impact of music on the brain but studies are showing many positive effects, from pain management to help with falling sleep. Music, it seems, really is the food of love, happiness and health. So yes please, play on.