Whether you prefer to tap your toes to jazz or bang your head to rock and roll, there’s one thing many of us can agree upon: Life would be pretty dull without music. It’s no secret that singing, dancing, and listening to music are pleasant activities, but the reasons why music is so beneficial to the human brain and body may surprise you. Here are 7 ways you may not realize music can improve your quality of life every day.
1. Brain Power
Scientists have done numerous studies on the effect music has on a person’s cognitive abilities, and the results they’ve found are overwhelmingly positive. Listening to music causes various parts of the brain to light up in MRI scans, indicating that a good song actively engages the mind. Research suggests that fast-paced beats increase mental processing speed, while slower songs boost memory. In fact, music is so good for the brain that it’s frequently and effectively used as a tool to help stroke survivors regain their ability to speak.
2. Improved Moods
You’re no doubt well aware that enjoying your favorite tunes puts you in a better mood, but it might surprise you just how powerful of an impact music has on mental health. Music helps the brain produce more of a hormone called dopamine that’s linked to happiness. The more dopamine the brain produces, the better your mood. Increased dopamine production is even linked to reduced symptoms of mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, meaning that taking some time out of your day to listen to an album you enjoy can serve as a highly effective form of therapy.
3. Pain Reduction
Music doesn’t just alleviate mental stress; it eases physical pain as well. The strong signals music sends to your brain pose direct competition to the signals that cause pain. In other words, your brain is so focused on the music that it forgets to tell the rest of your body to feel pain. Studies have shown that listening to music can even lessen the symptoms of chronic illnesses like Parkinson’s disease and fibromyalgia.
4. Better Sleep
If you find yourself struggling with insomnia, music might be the key to helping you get a good night’s sleep. Blasting fast, upbeat tunes during the day reduces fatigue to help regulate your body clock and make you feel more tired at night. Then, listening to slow, soothing melodies before bed allows your brain and body to feel more relaxed so you can drift off into a peaceful sleep.
5. Heart Health
Heart disease is extremely common among Americans of all ages, and the risk only increases with age, so it’s important to keep your heart in good condition. Luckily, heart health is yet another thing that music can help with. Relaxing songs can lower heart rate and blood pressure and increase blood flow, making them the ideal soundtrack for stationary activities like reading, eating meals, and talking with loved ones.
If you’ve ever taken an exercise class, there’s no doubt that your instructor played music to get everyone up and moving, and there’s a good reason for that. Jamming to your favorite upbeat songs is proven to boost motivation, making even the most difficult challenges much easier to tackle. Whether you’re powering through a grueling exercise routine or working up the energy to get some annoying household chores done, music pushes you to put forth your best effort.
Perhaps the most powerful benefit of music is its ability to bring people from all different walks of life together in harmony. Music of every genre has an emotional impact on anyone listening, singing, or dancing to it, and experiencing that vulnerability with others establishes a sense of unity. Whether you’re getting your groove on at a family wedding reception, belting out “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” with a stadium full of strangers, or squeezing your spouse’s hand as a movie’s score highlights its dramatic climax, music provides a bonding experience in a way that can’t be achieved through words alone.
You can learn more about the benefits of music with fellow music lovers at our September 20th Monday Meetup: “The Power of Music and the Effects It Can Have on Your Mood.” The event will be hosted by Adessa Campbell, MT-BC, Songwriter, Artist and Board Certified Music Therapist and will take place 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM ET.