Music is an extremely influential medium. It helps define cultures, unites masses of people, is one of the best outlets for expression, and intensifies our moods. When you think about it, it’s quite obvious that the proper application of music as a means of therapy can be very effective for certain people.
There is actually a field of medicine called music therapy where patients work with professionals who have completed an approved music therapy program to reach the goals they’ve set through music interventions. These interventions can include a combination of creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music. Through these therapeutic exercises, the music helps treat patients’ physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs.
Even if you’re not receiving music therapy, you can experience some of music’s therapeutic and more general health effects.
Music Helps With Exercise
Listening to your favorite “get pumped” music can help motivate you to go workout. It can also improve performance and endurance. The adrenaline rush you get from some of your favorite songs can motivate you to work harder. Plus, the distraction music provides can help you zone out, making you less aware of time passing and your body fatiguing, so you can end up working out longer.
One study also found that slow music helped improve participants’ post-exercise recovery times by hastening the recovery of systolic and diastolic blood pressure, pulse rate, and exertion.
Moods, Emotions, and Perceptions
Music helps people get in touch with their feelings. You have probably found that when you’re happy, you listen to something upbeat. When you’re down in the dumps, you listen to something sad. Studies have confirmed that the type of music people listen to – happy, sad, angry – affects their moods, and moreover their perceptions of the world. When people listen to upbeat music, they tend to feel happier and notice the positive things around them more often than the negative.
This is one of the reasons why music therapy can be an effective treatment method for patients suffering from depression – especially in children and teens. It’s also been seen to help cancer patients deal with side effects such as pain, anxiety, depression, and sickness.
Stress and Anxiety
Additionally, slow tempos and low pitches have been seen to relax people in high-stress situations. Music also relieves biological markers of anxiety, such as high blood pressure, increased heart rate, and cortisol levels.
Music’s healing affects on depression, stress, and anxiety have led researchers to study its effects on pre- and post-surgery patients. This study found that music was actually better at reducing fear and anxiety before surgery than orally administered medications.
Some other ways music can improve health…
- Cognitive output – if music improves a person’s mood, it can improve that person’s cognitive output.
- Memory – stroke patients who listen to music for 2 hours a day were seen to have improved verbal memory and attention.
- Sleep – classical music can help with insomnia.
- Meditation – slow musical beats can influence brainwave speeds creating activity similar to hypnotic or meditative states. This can help relieve migraines and behavioral issues.