It’s been said that if you add music to a moment, it becomes a memory. A specific song, catchy tune or funky ditty can easily take you back to memories of that first kiss, vacation or even your child’s first steps. However, there’re more benefits associated with listening to music than simply taking a trip down memory lane.
Music is basically an orchestrated collection of sound waves. Ironically, the human brain uses waves of its own, each one determined by a specific emotion.
These emotions play a key role in influencing various systemic functions throughout the body – like varying the rate of breathing and heart beats per minute, blood pressure, hormone release, muscle contraction and many others.
Listening to your favorite music may even promote a healthy heart. In 2008, researchers at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine in Baltimore conducted a study which showed that listening to joyful music arouses emotions that have a healthy physiological effect on blood vessel function.
Research has also shown that music with a specific beat can stimulate brain waves to resonate in sync with the beat. A fast tempo for example, results in sharper concentration levels and increased alertness, while slower tempos encourage a calmer more relaxed state of mind.
Music can even help some people improve their exercise regimes. As cheesy as it sounds, a friend of mine still trains to “The Eye of the Tiger” – that popular song from the Rocky franchise – insisting that the music helps him focus more on his movement, speed and endurance.
I’m sure most athletes use a similar training strategy…albeit to a difference choice of music!
When it comes to children and music, many people think that by playing Mozart to pregnant women, their children will become future Nobel Laureates. This is still an urban myth with no clear cut scientific evidence to suggest otherwise.
However, before I dismiss classical music’s legendary ‘child-prodigy’, his compositions may help premature infants by aiding weight gain and growth.
Israeli researchers have found that on average, the metabolism of premature infants slowed by up to 13% within 10 to 30 minutes of listening to a "Baby Mozart" CD. This reduction in metabolism helps promote weight gain, improving the baby’s condition and health.
Although more studies are essential to determine whether music therapy can in fact be used as part of early care for premature infants, the initial results sure are encouraging.
It seems that the brain is your body’s ‘conductor’ when it comes to improved health and physiological benefits as a result of listening to music.
In fact, scientists in Finland have already shown that listening to music in the early stages after a stroke can improve patients’ recovery by improving moods and mental alertness, as well as stimulating the brain’s ability to repair and renew its neural networks after they’ve been damaged.
It’s about now that I should remind you that simply playing your favorite song constantly for 24-hours a day will unlikely cure you of any disease or health condition.
Common sense must prevail at times, especially regarding the volume at which you listen to music. Be considerate to others as well as your eardrums as prolonged exposure to loud music can lead to hearing loss.
Before signing off for today, I must quickly mention that there’s no right or wrong when it comes to music. Each person has a preference for what he/she likes. What really matters is how you feel when listening to your favorite tunes…especially if they make you tap your feet, shake your hips and get out of that chair.
A bit of impromptu exercise is always good!