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Five Health Benefits of Listening to Music

Did you know that listening to music will enhance your everyday life?

“Music connects with our emotions and has the ability to bring on physiological changes,” says Kimberly Sena Moore, a board-certified music therapist and neurological music therapist. “Music plays a part in our high order thinking, including decision making and problem solving.”

Moore, who has provided music therapy services to patients in hospitals, rehabilitation centers and mental health treatment centers, says people should listen to music that they enjoy and can identify with. “Since someone’s preferred genre can change from day to day, just go with songs that match your preference at any given moment.”

Here are five ways your brain and body respond to music.

Listening to music…increases productivity.
It’s time to crank up some tunes on the job! Researchers at the University of Windsor, Canada evaluated the performance of 56 software designers in both a music and non-music atmosphere during a five-week period. The study revealed that when music played in the background, the designers not only turned in a higher quality of work, but they completed their assignments in less time and found themselves in better moods than when they were forced to work in a music-free setting.

Listening to music…boosts memory.
Feeling forgetful? Just turn on your iPod! According to a study conducted at Boston University, music can help the brain recall the past, as well as retain new information. The medical researchers divided 32 elderly people into two groups (an Alzheimer’s group and those without the disease) and asked them to view a series of relatively new children’s song lyrics on a screen—first with the words being sung, followed by the words being spoken and lastly with the words appearing on screen sans sound. When all of the subjects were later asked if they recalled the lyrics, the Alzheimer’s patients only responded when the lyrics were sung, while the healthy adults recalled the lyrics when they were sung, spoken and read. “A repetitive rhythm with simple lyrics is easy for our brain to pick up,” explains Moore.

Listening to music…reduces feelings of pain.
When you find yourself dealing with an upset stomach or wincing from a workout injury, head to your iTunes library! A study conducted at the University of Utah Pain Research Center evaluated the perceived pain levels of 143 volunteers who were suffering from various physical symptoms. While being given pain shocks with fingertip electrodes, the patients were asked to listen to music tracks, follow melodies and identify tones. As a result, the patients experienced less pain, which researchers believe was due to the music’s positive emotional response, as well as its ability to shift the attention away from the patients’ problems.

Listening to music…improves cardiovascular health.
Good music can really get your blood pumping! Scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore asked 10 healthy adults to listen to music that they would describe as “joyful.” The seven men and three women were then tested and were shown to have an increase of blood flow throughout the body due to an expansion of the tissues located in the inner lining of the blood vessels. However, when the volunteers were then asked to listen to music they considered to be “stressful,” the same blood vessels narrowed, ultimately reducing blood flow.

Listening to music…lessens anxiety.
The next time life feels overwhelming, close your eyes and unwind with your favorite songs. Swedish researchers at the University of Gothenburg gathered 42 students and asked half of them to relax for 30-minutes a day while listening to music and the other half to relax for the same amount of time each day in a music-free environment. After two weeks, the researchers discovered that the music listeners not only appeared less stressed, but had also produced lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. And the more the students enjoyed the music they listened to, the less stress they experienced.