Music is one of the few activities that involves using the whole brain. It is intrinsic to all cultures and has surprising benefits not only for learning language, improving memory and focusing attention, but also for physical coordination and development.
Not all types of music have favorable effects. Music can be distracting if it’s too loud or too jarring, or if it competes for our attention with what we’re trying to do. But for the most part, exposure to classic music has beneficial effects
There are endless ways that music makes our hearts and souls feel better. But research shows that music can have benefits for our bodies, too.
Improve running motivation and performance
Here’s an easy way to beat your best time if you’re a runner: Listen to your favorite “pump-up” music. Listening to music may help people run faster, boost their workout motivation, and enhance their endurance .
Reducing blood pressure
By playing recordings of relaxing music every morning and evening, people with high blood pressure can train themselves to lower their blood pressure – and keep it low31. According to research reported at the American Society of Hypertension meeting in New Orleans, listening to just 30 minutes of classical, Celtic or raga music every day may significantly reduce high blood pressure.
Improves your visual and verbal skills
Early music education stimulates a child’s brain, leading to improved performance in verbal intelligence. This was suggested in a study among 4-to 6-year-olds who received only one month of musical training. It included training in rhythm, pitch, melody, voice and basic musical concepts, and this proved to have a “transfer effect,” enhancing their ability to understand words and explain their meaning.
Another study among 8 to 11-year-olds found that those who had extra-curricular music classes, developed higher verbal IQ, and visual abilities, in comparison to those with no musical training.
The latest 2014 study revealed that listening to Mozart K 448 (Sonata for Two Pianos in D major) reduced the seizure recurrence and epileptiform discharges in children epilepsy36. The antiepileptic effect of Mozart’s sonata has been earlier demonstrated by Taiwanese scientists37.
Speed up post-workout recovery
One study found that listening to music after a workout can help the body recover faster . While slow music produced a greater relaxation effect post-exercise, it seems that any kind of music can help the physical recovery process.
Help people eat less
One study found that playing soft music (and dimming the lights) during a meal can help people slow down while eating and ultimately consume less food in one sitting (perhaps because slowing down helps them to be more mindful of fullness cues) .
Music boosts immunity
Music can boost the immune function. Scientists explain that a particular type of music can create a positive and profound emotional experience, which leads to secretion of immune-boosting hormones22. This helps contribute to a reduction in the factors responsible for illness. Listening to music or singing can also decrease levels of stress-related hormone cortisol. Higher levels of cortisol can lead to a decreased immune response23–24.
Music can meaningfully reduce the perceived intensity of pain, especially in geriatric care, intensive care, or palliative medicine (an area of healthcare that focuses on preventing and relieving the suffering of patients) .
Induce a meditative state
Listening to slow musical beats can alter brainwave speed, creating brainwave activity similar to when a person is meditating or in a hypnotic state. Some research suggests that using rhythmic stimuli (such as music) to induce these states can have a therapeutic effect, easing symptoms of migraines, PMS, and even behavioral issues .
Keeps an aging brain healthy
Having musical training could help keep the brain healthy as people grow older. Any kind of musical activity in life serves as a challenging cognitive exercise, making your brain sharper and more capable of dealing with challenges of aging.
Even someone with brain damage or dementia can recover memories through listening to music. It is ingrained in our deepest core of being, no matter the language, the sound and the rhythm resonates deep within. Like Kahlil Gibran puts it, “Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife.”