How music can benefit health

Whether it’s the emotional release of a classical Italian opera, or the exuberant rejoicing of bhangra dancing, the experience of listening to and enjoying music is special to humanity all over the world. It’s like a universal language – a self-governing and free undefinable aspect of our culture that seemingly brings us all together.

We all know how easy it is for a good tune to put a smile on your face and get your feet tapping, but have you ever thought about how music can actually biologically benefit your health? The truth is, there’s loads of different scientific research that’s been carried out proving just how good music can be for your well-being. Here are a few for you to ponder on.

Photo: BURST

Improves communication skills

Studies show that music stimulates the brain. Physiological reactions occur, and certain hormones are released. Increased exposure to music from an early age has been shown to dramatically improve verbal and visual development, with children who were musically trained being found to have significantly enhanced understanding of words, a higher IQ and greater visual development,

Decreases anxiety and helps depression

Music has been found to have a soothing and relaxing effect on the body, boosting mood, refocusing the anxieties of the psyche and generally improving the quality of life. With these emotional benefits of music, studies have shown that those who listen to music often and those who have a formative relationship with music are actually at significantly less risk of developing depression.

Relieves pain

There has also been research into music’s unique ability of decreasing the intensity of pain. Numerous studies suggest that music has a secondary cognitive effect on the human body, causing emotional hormone release. This release is thought to act as a distraction from pain, surfacing an evoked emotion of pleasant feelings that disturbs the body’s functional attributes to pain. This type of music therapy is most effective for chronic and acute pain.

Reduces stress

Music generally has a calming effect on the body’s natural stress response. It can be used as a successful tool in stress-management, being extremely powerful in capturing an emotional mood. It can distract us and divert our attention at times when the body is biologically responding to stress at high-levels. With these reasonings, sleeping patterns can also benefit, with sounds promoting a night of more restful sleep.

Photo: BURST

Strengthens memory

You know that feeling when you hear a particular song and somehow it opens you back up to all the senses of one specific moment in time? Well, there’s been scientific research in this feeling, with studies proving that music has a potent way of drawing back a memory. This phenomenon is thought to be associated with the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which has a positive effect on the function of our episodic memory, strengthening our recollection ability.

So next time you’re tuning into the radio or creating that new Monday playlist, consider these facts on just how weirdly powerful music is. It can affect our biological function without us even knowing. Music has and always will be a form of therapy for the soul, but more and more research is suggesting it has a few more benefits to our biological health too. Fascinating stuff. Now crank up that volume!