The Incredible Power of Music for Body and Mind
“Ah, music," he said, wiping his eyes. "A magic beyond all we do here!”
~ J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Judging from the quote above, it seems that Dumbledore is suggesting that music has an uncanny power to not only help us cope with distress, it touches the soul in ways like nothing else can!
Throughout history, a wealth of renowned figures have had plenty to say about the incredible power of music! Whether it’s referring to music being the food of love, or it’s ability to soothe the savage beast, it is universally indisputable that music has the capacity to make us feel better!
Far beyond this common sense understanding, research supports the fact that music not only helps us cope with pain, but is can also benefit our physical and mental health in numerous ways. Read on to discover the ways in which listening to your favorite tunes can enhance your health!
Amazingly, music has been found to meaningfully reduce the perceived intensity of pain, especially in geriatric care, intensive care, or palliative medicine (an area of healthcare aimed at preventing and relieving the suffering of patients).
Listening to your favorite playlists can help to boost workout motivation, by inspiring you to work out harder or run faster; as well as increasing physical performance and endurance during a tough workout. Music serves to distract us, as we are focused on a favorite track, we may not notice that we just ran an extra mile!
Improves sleep quality
As much as music has the power to motivate and invigorate, it also has the power to put us in a state of relaxation. Indeed, listening to classical music before bedtime has been show to effectively treat insomnia in college students, making it a safe, cheap alternative to prescription sleep meds!
Supports weight loss
Upgrade your evening meal with some chilled background music and candlelight! Sounds romantic, doesn’t it, but it can also help you to unwind and eat more slowly. One study found that playing soft music (with dimmed lighting) at mealtime can help people to slow down their eating, helping them to consume less food, and to be more aware of fullness cues.
It is no surprise that listening to music relieves stress! In fact, research reveals that listening to music every day lowers stress levels and increases positive emotions. Try incorporating music into your daily routine by listening to your car radio during your morning commute, turning on the stereo instead of the TV. What’s more, singing (or shouting) along with your favorite tunes can be a great tension reliever and a lot of fun!
Feeling down in the dumps? Music can serve as an effective pick-me-up, much in the same way that exercising does, and put you into a brighter mood. The kind of music you listen to matter, research suggests. Classical music is a powerful anti-depressant, and upbeat music can be particularly up-lifting, while heavy metal and techno are shown to actually make depressive symptoms worse!
Improves cognitive performance
Have a paper to write, or an exam to study for? You may find that soft background music may enhance your performance on cognitive tasks. One study found that listening to music allowed test takers to complete more questions in the time allotted, and get more answers right. Other research suggests that whether or not music improves cognitive function depends on whether the music first improves a person’s emotional state.
A recent study reveals that listening to music each day can help relieve anxiety and improve overall health, decreasing cortisol (a stress hormone) levels in the body. The type of music doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you like it. In fact, the more you like the music, the better the results!
Helps cancer patients manage stress
Researchers have found that cancer patients who either listened to music or worked with a music therapist experienced a reduction in anxiety, and also helps them communicate their feelings, manage stress, and ease physical pain and discomfort, as well as enhancing quality of life as a whole.