Can Music Improve Your Overall Health?

Can Music Improve Your Overall Health

Find Out How Can Music Improve Your Overall Health

We put a lot of effort behind the pursuit of “healthier.” Things like physical activity, mindfulness, and a balanced diet bring a lot of benefits. What’s more, they are benefits we know to expect based on decades of proven research and popular teachings.

Music Improve Your Overall Health

But what about songs, sounds, and other auditory things? Can music improve your overall health in the same way (or more so) than meditation or sleep?

It sounds crazy, but recent pushes in neuroscience — and specifically the field of “psychoacoustics” — have made it clear that music and sound have a much bigger impact on us than we ever imagined.

Let’s look at the science and see if there’s research to make or break this idea.

Science Of Music And Sound

Before you can really appreciate the overall effects of sound, we’ve got to take a closer look at the science behind the cause-and-effect process.

Scientific research has really opened our eyes to how the human brain interacts with music, and it’s something that health enthusiasts can learn and apply to our everyday lives.

First and foremost, studies show that sound influences how we think, feel, and perceive everything around us. That’s something everyone has experienced at some point, from remembering lyrics to a song you heard 20 years ago to how a specific sound can trigger an instant emotional response.

Can Music Improve Your Overall HealthBut given advances in neuroscience, it has become possible to study the specifics. We can break the findings up into five key regions of the brain, from our language center (temporal lobe) to our memory center (cerebrum).

Music has the biggest effect on the limbic system — our emotional core. According to Scientific American, certain songs and sounds trigger the human brain to produce dopamine in the same way that we would respond to exercise, a favorite meal, drug use, or even sex.

So it makes sense that music would have a similarly powerful effect on individual daily activities.

Music’s Effects During Exercise

Remember all those parts of the brain that music affects? Well, one of them is the cerebellum, or the brain’s physical response center. And you know which popular hormone comes from an increase in dopamine production?

Endorphins, which are responsible for those go-out-and-conquer-the-world moods you have after an awesome gym session.

One particular study showed that music enables us to “run farther, bike longer, and swim faster than usual.” In other words, music during any sort of physical activity can function like “a type of legal performance-enhancing drug,” according to psychologist Costas Karageorghis.

Of course, music has the biggest influence on self-paced exercise. If you find an upbeat playlist for your next half-marathon, you can plan the BPM of songs to help set a pace.

The same goes for solo gym visits, where your song choices can help you time your movements (or just give you that extra kick you need to get those extra reps).

But the point is that music isn’t just a good distraction from physical discomfort. There is a palpable tie between music and physical activity, and that can create just the boost you need to push your workouts to the next level.

Benefits Of Sound In Meditation

Music therapy is a popular treatment for stress, anxiety, and many other mental and physical health problems. These can range anywhere from lowering blood pressure with a song’s BPM to pulling up memories from someone with Alzheimer’s, a la Disney’s Coco.

But music can also be a valuable tool in meditation and the practice of mindfulness.

You don’t have to restrict yourself to “meditation music,” “relaxing music,” or even “ambient music.” But the fact that new genres exist to pair music with meditation should suggest just how well these two things work together.

One increasing practice is the use of binaural audio for meditation. This is a fairly technical topic, based mostly on the science of brainwaves, sound frequencies, etc.

The interesting takeaway is that experts are developing unique types of meditation because of the benefits that music brings, both in terms of relieving stress, boosting focus, and calming nerves.

How Music Improves Sleep

Let’s not beat around the bush: Listening to relaxing music improves sleep.

A study of ~100 college students showed that 45 minutes of classical music before bed improved sleep quality and decreased depressive symptoms.

Other studies have taken the same experiment to larger groups, ultimately proving the same findings at a significantly larger scale.

Research by the Sleep Foundation discovered that older adults who listened to 45 minutes of music before bed would consistently “fall asleep faster, sleep longer, wake up less during the night, and rate their nights as more restful than when they don’t listen to music.”

And remember, this doesn’t incorporate the other findings we’ve looked at. Listening to the right music at the right time can combine these effects, getting the more straightforward health benefits (lower blood pressure, for example) in addition to a better night’s sleep, or a more restorative meditation, or a stronger workout.

Wrap-Up

So, can music improve your overall health? Music influences every part of our lives. From the radio station that improves our commutes to the favorite band we share with old friends, music has significant ties to our emotions and memories. Now, thanks to scientific research, we know why music is such a powerful force.

But we also know music can improve our overall health. And at the end of the day, that might be even more important than all the other positive effects we gain from incorporating music into our daily lives.

Images via Dreamstime.com.

Drew Gula
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Can Music Improve Your Overall Health?