Wellness Wednesday - MUSIC

onthecouch.png

A change is as good as a rest they say, so Wellness Wednesday finds me all excited because I’m going to be spending a long weekend away at a music festival with my man, spending quality time with special friends, meeting new ones and all while listening to lots of my favourite tunes. These things all play their part in our overall wellness. They recalibrate us, recharge our batteries and boost our brain chemicals. Let’s look at music;

music-festival-730x487.jpg

1. Music Makes You Happier

Research proves that when you listen to music you like, your brain releases dopamine, a “feel-good” neurotransmitter. Scans show that large amounts of dopamine are released, which biologically causes the participants to feel emotions like happiness, excitement, and joy.

So the next time you need an emotional boost, listen to your favourite tunes for 15 minutes. That’s all it takes to get a natural high!

2. Music Enhances Running Performance

Marcelo Bigliassi and his colleagues found that runners who listened to fast or slow motivational music completed the first 800 meters of their run faster than runners who listened to calm music or ran without music. If you want to take your running up a notch, listen to songs that inspire you.

3. Music Lowers Stress and Improves Health

Listening to music you enjoy decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your body, which counteracts the effects of chronic stress. This is an important finding since stress causes 60% of all our illnesses and disease.

To stay calm and healthy during a stressful day, turn on the radio. Be sure to sing along and tap your feet to the beat to get the maximum healing benefit.

4. Music Helps You Sleep Better

Over 30% of us suffer from insomnia. A study showed that students who listened to relaxing classical music for 45 minutes before turning in slept significantly better than students who listened to an audiobook or did nothing different from their normal routine. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try listening to a little Bach or Mozart before bedtime to catch some Zs.

5. Music Reduces Depression

More than 350 million people suffer from depression around the world. A whopping 90% of them also experience insomnia. The sleep research above found that symptoms of depression decreased significantly in the group that listened to classical music before bedtime, but not in the other two groups. Another study by Hans Joachim Trappe in Germany also demonstrated that music can benefit patients with depressive symptoms, depending on the type of music. Meditative sounds and classical music lifted people up, but techno and heavy metal brought people down even more.

The next time you feel low, put on some classical or meditative music to lift your spirits.

6. Music Helps You Eat Less

Research at Georgia Tech University showed that softening the lighting and music while people ate led them to consume fewer calories and enjoy their meals more. If you’re looking for ways to curb your appetite, try dimming the lights and listening to soft music the next time you sit down for a meal.

7. Music Elevates Your Mood While Driving

A study in the Netherlands found that listening to music can positively impact your mood while driving, which can lead to safer behaviour than not listening to music. The next time you feel frustrated in traffic, turn up the tunes to improve your state of mind. It won’t hurt your driving performance – it may even help you drive more safely.

Radio-Image-2.jpg

8. Music Strengthens Learning and Memory

Researchers discovered that music can help you learn and recall information better, but it depends on how much you like the music and whether or not you’re a musician. Subjects memorized Japanese characters while listening to music that either seemed positive or neutral to them. The results showed that participants who were musicians learned better with neutral music but tested better when pleasurable music was playing. Non-musicians, on the other hand, learned better with positive music but tested better with neutral music.

Memorise these results. You now have a strategy to study more effectively for your next test.

9. Music Relaxes Patients Before/After Surgery

Researchers found that listening to relaxing music before surgery decreases anxiety. In fact, it’s even more effective than being orally administered Midazolam, a medication often used to help pre-op patients feel sleepy that also has gnarly side effects such as coughing and vomiting. Other studies showed that listening to soothing music while resting in bed after open heart surgery increases relaxation.

Globally, 234 million major surgeries are performed each year. If you or someone you know is going into surgery, be sure to bring some soothing tunes to ease anxiety. It may work better, and will certainly have fewer adverse side effects, than the meds they dispense.

10. Music Reduces Pain

Research at Drexel University in Philadelphia found that music therapy and pre-recorded music reduced pain more than standard treatments in cancer patients. Other research showed that music can decrease pain in intensive care patients and geriatric care patients, but the selection needed to be classical pieces, meditative music, or songs of the patient’s choosing.

chamber-music-society-56a153b23df78cf77269aafb.jpg

11. Music Helps Alzheimer’s Patients Remember

A non-profit organisation called Music & Memory helps people with Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related dementias remember who they are by having them listen to their dearest songs. The awakening is often dramatic. For example, after Henry listens to music from his era, this wheelchair-bound dementia sufferer who can barely speak sings Cab Calloway songs and happily reminisces about his life.

Dr Laura Mosqueda, Director of Geriatrics at the University of California at the Irvine School of Medicine, explains that because music affects so many areas of the brain, it stimulates pathways that may still be healthy.

One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, so odds are you know someone who has it. To connect with loved ones who suffer from age-related dementia, try playing some of their best-loved music.

12. Music Improves Recovery in Stroke Patients

Research at the University of Helsinki showed that stroke patients who listened to music they chose themselves for two hours a day had significantly improved recovery of cognitive function compared to those who listened to audio books or were given no listening material. Most of the music contained lyrics, which suggests that it’s the combination of music and voice that bolstered the patients’ auditory and verbal memory.

If you know someone who has suffered a stroke, bring their favourite songs as soon as you can. Listening to them can significantly ramp up their recuperation.

13. Music Increases Verbal Intelligence

After only one month of music lessons (in rhythm, pitch, melody and voice), a study at York University showed that 90% of children between the ages of 4 and 6 had a significant increase in verbal intelligence. Researcher Sylvain Moreno suggests that the music training had a “transfer effect” which enhanced the children’s ability to understand words and explain their meaning. Other research found that musically trained adult women and musically trained children outperformed those without music training on verbal memory tests.

No matter whether you’re an adult or a child, if you want to boost your verbal skills, try taking music lessons!

14. Music Raises IQ and Academic Performance

Research shows that taking music lessons predicts higher academic performance and IQ in young children. In one study, 6-year-olds who took keyboard or singing lessons in small groups for 36 weeks had significantly larger increases in IQ and standardized educational test results than children who took either drama lessons or no lessons. The singing group did the best.

To help your children achieve academic excellence, encourage them to sing or learn to play an instrument.

15. Music Keeps Your Brain Healthy in Old Age

A study with healthy older adults found that those with ten or more years of musical experience scored higher on cognitive tests than musicians with one to nine years of musical study. The non-musicians scored the lowest. “Since studying an instrument requires years of practice and learning, it may create alternate connections in the brain that could compensate for cognitive declines as we get older,” says lead researcher Brenda Hanna-Pladdy.

Plato had it right; “Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul.” No matter whether you’re young or old, healthy or sick, happy or sad, music can improve the quality of your life in numerous ways. It reduces stress and anxiety, lifts your mood, boosts your health, helps you sleep better, takes away your pain, and even makes you smarter.

New research shows that music “can communicate basic human feelings regardless of the listener’s cultural and ethnic background.” We’ve only just begun to understand all the ways this universal language can profit the world. Rather than cut funds for music and art programs in schools, why not invest in exploring all the secret places that music reaches so that we may continue to reap its amazing benefits?

Music facts from www.lifehack.org

Have a fabulous wellness weekendtoo. Be kind to yourself, Denise x




Denise Kirby