We all know that listening to music can have a profound effect on our emotions, but did you know that listening to music and playing a musical instrument can also have a positive impact on our health? Let’s take a look at 3 ways that music can affect our mental and physical health.
There is plenty of evidence that suggests that listening to music can help to relieve feelings of anxiety and make you feel calm in stressful situations. A recent study from the US National Institute of Health found that listening to music caused a reduction in the release of the cortisol hormone, which triggers a physiological stress response in the body. Another study from the US National Institute of Health also measured several physiological indicators of stress in patients that listened to relaxing music before and after a stressful event and found that the nervous system in these patients was able to recover more quickly after listening to music.
Boosts physical performance
Exercise enthusiasts will be well aware of the motivational effect that music can have on the body during a workout, which is supported by recent research. A study from the International Journal of Physiology, Pathophysiology and Pharmacology found that music helps to elevate your mood and reduce your awareness of physical exertion, which can increase the length and efficiency of your workouts. Researchers believe that music acts as a physiological metronome and by syncing music to your workouts, you can perform at a higher level while using less oxygen than you would without listening to a steady beat.
Music has also been proven to positively affect your brain’s ability to retain information. In a study by Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, researchers assigned tasks to test subjects that required them to read and then memorise a selection of words. Test subjects who were given classical music to listen to while studying were able to remember more words than those who listened to white noise or read the words in silence. Scientists have also found that while listening to music does not reduce the memory loss already experienced by people with dementia, it does have the ability to slow down cognitive decline and help people with less severe dementia recall memories from their past. Music memory has been found to be one of the functions of the brain that is most resistant to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, which is why a number of care homes provide access to music for patients experiencing symptoms of cognitive decline.
Improves your reflexes
As we grow older, our reflexes can, unfortunately, become weaker, but you can keep yourself sharp and feeling sprightly for longer by taking up a new musical instrument. Research suggests that people with a musical background have much better reaction times to vibrations and sounds, no matter how proficient they are at playing the instrument. So, if you play a sport or are looking to enhance your cognitive abilities as you grow older, picking up an instrument might be the key to improving your reflexes and overall cognitive function.
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