Music's Outstanding Benefits to Your Health: Seven Reasons to Listen to Some Music Now

Published: 26th December 2005
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Copyright 2005 Linda Slater Dowling

It's no secret that college students love music. Whether on your way to class, heading to the gym or hanging out with friends, music just makes us feel good. And depending on the style you choose, it can do everything from revving up your energy for a night on the town to calming your nerves before a big exam.

Music, though, is much more than a beat to tap your toes to or a tune to sing along with. Increasing numbers of studies are confirming that listening to music can have a real, positive influence on your health. Here are seven of the most significant health reasons to listen to some music today (as if you needed even one more!).

1. Relieve stress. In one study, patients who had just been told they needed surgery listened to a calming piece of music. Their levels of the stress hormone cortisol were 50 percent lower than patients who did not listen to any music, according to Roger W. Wicke, Ph.D, instructor in Chinese herbology and director of the Rocky Mountain Herbal Institute.

2. Increase energy. In some cases, such as during sports events or other high-intensity exercise, high levels of cortisol are desirable. Runners were able to produce high levels of cortisol faster when they listened to energizing music with a fast pace.

3. Learn better. Bulgarian psychologist George Lozanov found that students who listened to Baroque instrumental music (such as J.S. Bach) while learning a foreign language had an increased speed of learning and a greater degree of memory retention than those who did not.

4. Become smarter (at least temporarily). Researcher Frances Rauscher coined the term "The Mozart Effect." It refers to his finding that study participants who listened to 10 minutes of Mozart music performed 48 percent better on a paper-folding task that was part of an intelligence test. The effect lasted about 10 minutes.

5. Relax. Alfred Tomatis, a French ear specialist, found that listening to Baroque or classical music (particularly string instruments like the violin, viola and cello) induced brainwave patterns in humans that correlate with relaxation of muscle tension and calm attentiveness.

6. Sleep better. Adults with sleep problems who listened to 45 minutes of soft music at bedtime reported a 35 percent improvement in their sleep, according to a study published in the February 2005 edition of The Journal of Advanced Nursing. Not only did they sleep better and longer, but they also reported less daytime dysfunction.

7. Protect your heart. A new study in the journal Heart found that listening to fast music sped up participants' circulation and breathing rates while slower music induced calm and led to a fall in heart rate. When the music was paused, the participants' signals of arousal (breathing rates, etc.) fell below where they had been at the start of the study, which researchers say is helpful in protecting against heart disease and stroke.

Want to Know More?

If music and health is a topic that interests you, there are over 70 colleges and universities approved by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) to offer degrees in professional music therapy.

According to the AMTA, "Music therapy is an established health care profession that uses music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals of all ages." They say a music therapist can help a person to:

Promote wellness

Manage stress

Alleviate pain

Express feelings

Enhance memory

Improve communication

Promote physical rehabilitation
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Linda Slater Dowling, a certified natural health professional, is CEO & founder of the Nutritional Institute, home of the new STUDENT FORMULA Natural Health Products. For a FREE e-book on "Eating Right on a Budget" visit their Web site at http://www.studentformula.com . You may also want to sign up for their popular "Be Smart, Be Healthy, Be Natural" e-newsletter.


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