There has been a lot of dancing in the streets and reflections on music as a backdrop to life experiences. In musing over the changes that occur when the music from a legendary artist stops, we don’t think about the importance of music in helping us stay healthy.
Moving more and eating less means fitting exercise of some type into your daily routine. It is recommended that you get in at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Can you imagine the challenge of fitting exercise into your schedule sans the music? Some of my clients choose stepping out to walk a mile or two, others sign up for the nearest organized fitness class and others enjoy sliding into dancing shoes to Step, Salsa or Electric Slide. Though it is not a scientific observation, I’ve been known to drop or reschedule an aerobics class when the playlist from the instructor is not tracking to a beat that motivates me.
There have been a number of studies exploring music as medicine. Music has positive effects on reducing stress and anxiety, lowering blood pressure, aiding in pain management and encouraging rhythmic movement. In addition to music’s positive impact on well-being, music enjoyment elicits dopamine release. Dopamine is the chemical in the brain that affects emotions, movement and the sense of pleasure and pain. Dopamine release has also been linked to increasing motivation, which has been linked to learning and memory.
Stress Less and Listen More
Listening to music you enjoy can reduce the levels of the hormone cortisol in the body. Cortisol is an essential hormone that is released in the body. It is typically released in response to events and circumstances such as waking up in the morning, exercising, and acute stress. Stress can cause illness and disease. One study found that people who participated in making music by playing percussion instruments or singing have their immune system boosted more than if they passively listened to music.
Music can also aid in improving athletic performance and motivation.
Consider how many professional athletes you see with headphones or earbuds during their pre-game routines. It works for weekend warriors too. The sound of upbeat popular tunes we enjoy can create the extra boost to stay focused on the task at hand and complete a few more steps or reps of the daily workout.
Music and Aging
Enjoyment of music does not age out. Listening to music can be very beneficial to older adults. It can elevate mood and make folks feel happier. Research has also found that in people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, listening to music is beneficial. The non-profit organization “Music & Memory” helps people with Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related memory challenges remember who they are by having them listen to their dearest song.
Music and Food
Music is relaxing. By relaxing at the table and not rushing through a meal, you will enjoy the food more and are less likely to overeat. Researchers from Georgia Tech University showed that by softening the lighting and playing music while people ate, the people in the study consumed fewer calories and enjoyed their meals more.
Good health is holistic. It is important to eat well and make wise food choices. Include exercise, music and relaxation activities, as well as appropriate amounts of rest in your daily routine. By embracing actions to boost your physical and mental health, you’ll be able to keep the music playing for well-being.