For some people, going even a day without listening to a few songs can be rather difficult. Rather than being a mere source of entertainment, studies have shown that music can have a beneficial effect on our physical and mental health.
1. More effective workout
Most of us prefer listening to music when we go out for a run or when sweating it out at the gym. But is there a scientific basis to explain why?
Turns out, a good soundtrack can increase the efficiency of your workout by delaying tiredness. In a recent study, researchers also found that music could induce changes in brain activity such as participants displaying signs of increased excitement.
2. Reduced levels of stress
In a 2016 study, the stress hormone cortisol showed a significant decrease in more than 100 people. This was when comparing levels before and after they had attended two concerts in England.
When cortisol levels are high for long periods of time, a variety of health problems can arise such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Interestingly, the study also found no association with factors like age or familiarity with the music being played. This suggested that there is a “universal response” to live music performances.
3. Improved cognitive ability
In a 2018 study, children who received music lessons were found to display better cognitive skills. These included improved language-based reasoning, improved visual and spatial short-term memory, planning, inhibition, etc.
“This suggests that the cognitive skills developed during music lessons can influence children’s cognitive abilities in completely unrelated subjects, leading to overall improved academic performance,” said study leader Dr. Artur Jaschke of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
4. More immunity, less pain
In a review of scientific literature, better immune health was also identified as one of the more surprising health benefits. Listening to music could increase levels of a certain antibody and natural killer cells, both of which play important roles in targeting harmful germs and preventing infections.
Music therapy has also helped with the management of pain among patients with fibromyalgia and cancer. As a result, many researchers have suggested that music could be considered as a non-pharmacological component when coming up with pain reduction strategies.
5. Increased productivity
Does background music help you when writing an essay? Hard to say, especially if the music includes vocals which some may find distracting. But if you are performing a repetitive task, there is a good chance that music can boost efficiency and accuracy, according to Dr. Joanne Cantor of the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
“Workers on assembly lines or quality-control operators need to stay focused on their work even though what they’re doing is not necessarily inherently interesting, and attention typically fades over time,” she writes. “In these situations, music can make the task seem less boring, and it can also increase arousal and alertness.”