Crank up those favorite tunes, because music can help make you healthier both mentally and physically.
Two researchers from McGill University in Montreal reviewed 400 published scientific papers looking for patterns among the results. They found that music can help generate positive effects on brain chemistry by causing neurons in the brain’s stem to be activated in sync with the beat.
Several other studies have shown that music has many benefits to our physical and emotional well-being. Here are 8 ways music can improve your life:
8 Ways Music can Help Improve Your Life 1 of 9
Higher Success Rates for IVF 2 of 9
Last week Dresden wrote about a recent study which showed that certain types of music played during the in-vitro fertilization process may result in a higher success rate. She writes that, "Researchers from the Institut MarquÃ¨s, a fertility clinic in Barcelona, released a breakthrough study revealing there really is a connection between music and successful fertilization. They discovered music improves IVF."
Dr. Marisa LÃ³pez-TeijÃ³n, who authored the study, said that, "The micro vibrations stir the culture media in which the egg swims, producing a more homogeneous distribution of the nutrients it needs and scattering toxic products by preventing their accumulation."
Fascinating, isn't it?
Patient Depression 3 of 9
Cancer patients listen to or play music as a way to work through their illness, helping them control some of the psychological effects of coping with cancer. Though a small-scale study, researchers have found that different styles of music helped people in different ways. Cheerful music helped fight off depression. Heavy-metal music provided an outlet for anger. Religious music strengthened faith. Birdsong gave them a spiritual boost.
If music helps cancer patients in any way it sure is worth a try.
Cardiovascular Health 4 of 9
Music can help your heart, and not just after a bad breakup. According to a study from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, music can have positive effects on your cardiovascular health. Their small-scale study revealed that as emotions arouse while listening to your favorite music, tissue in the inner lining of blood vessels expands, thus increasing blood flow. Strong blood flow is crucial for keeping your entire cardiovascular system running smoothly, particularly as we get older.
When you enjoy listening to music, regardless of genre, it also releases endorphins in the brain, which improves cardiovascular health by elevating your mood and reducing your stress levels.
Pain Reduction 5 of 9
Children who listen to music while getting an IV report less pain and distress than when not listening to music. A study from the University of Alberta measured levels of distress, perceived pain levels and heart rates of 42 children. They also looked at satisfaction levels of parents and health-care providers who administered the IVs. Children who listened to music reported significantly less pain than those who did not and their parents reported higher satisfaction with their child's care. Additionally, the health-care providers were likely to report that the IVs in the music listening group were "very easy" to administer, a much higher number than the IV administrations in the non-music group.
So if your child is headed to the hospital, be sure to bring on the tunes.
Newborn Development 6 of 9
At Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, they found tangible health benefits of the simple task of singing to your newborn child. Researchers gave musical intervention to 272 premature babies in the NICU with various types of music, either two-toned percussion box, oceanic sounds, or lullabies. Each type of music resulted in lowered heart rate, improved sleep, better sucking, and heightened moments of quiet alertness for the premature babies. However, researchers have also found that singing more personal songs had the added result of increasing bonding between the child and parents.
Keep singing, moms and dads.
Stronger Mental Capacity 7 of 9
The next time you have a presentation to memorize or a test to study for, consider breaking out those upbeat concertos. A fascinating small scale study found that uplifting concertos such as Vivaldi's The Four Seasons can boost mental alertness. The uplifting first movement, in particular, showed a capability of enhancing attention and memory.
A group of young adults were given a mental concentration task to perform while listening to a concerto. The average response time in performing the task was faster with uplifting music than it was with slower music as well as with no music at all. The most exciting part of the concerto overall had an exaggerated effect on the area of the brain that's important for emotional processing, evoking positive, contented feelings which translated into higher levels of cognitive functioning.
Improved Listening Skills 8 of 9
Here is another reason to say yes when your child asks if he or she can play an instrument at school. Believe it or not, if you played an instrument for a year or two as a child, you are likely to be better at recognizing complex sounds now than your friends who did not play an instrument at all. A study out of Northwestern University found that compared to peers with no musical training, adults who had up to five years of musical training as children have stronger brain responses to complex sounds.
During the study, adults with varying amounts of past musical training were tested by measuring electrical signals from the auditory brainstem in response to eight complex sounds ranging in pitch. The fundamental frequency is the lowest frequency in sound, and experts say that it is crucial for speech and music perception by allowing recognition of sounds in complex and noisy auditory environments. Adults who had musical experience are more effective at deciphering the fundamental frequency.
Better Mood 9 of 9
Okay, this one is probably not such a shock. The reason why can improve one's health is that happier people are generally healthier or report being less affected by illnesses.
Researchers at the University of Missouri discovered that people can successfully become happier when they listen to cheery music. Participants improved their mood after being instructed to attempt to do so by listening to music. (The upbeat music of Copland made the participants happier, as opposed to the more somber Stravinsky.) However, those who listened to the music without being instructed to try to better their mood did not report changes in happiness. A second study showed similar results when participants listened to upbeat music over a two week period.
Please note that this post is intended to share information and ideas, as well as to create conversation. Please consult a medical professional before making changes to your lifestyle.
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