If you love listening to music, you’re in good company. Charles Darwin once remarked, “If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week.” Albert Einstein declared, “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician.” Jimi Hendrix called music his “religion.”
I’ve always been in awe of people who can sing and play guitar. As a young girl, I secretly listened to singer-songwriter music in my bedroom into the wee hours. As a rebellious teenager, I cranked rock ‘n’ roll in the house whenever I had to do chores. I always felt great afterwards – now I know why.
Recent research shows that listening to music improves our mental well-being and boosts our physical health in surprising and astonishing ways. If we take a music lesson or two, that musical training can help raise our IQs and even keep us sharp in old age. Here are 15 amazing scientifically-proven benefits of being hooked on music.
1. Improves mood.
Studies show that listening to music can benefit overall well-being, help regulate emotions, and create happiness and relaxation in everyday life.
2. Reduces stress.
Listening to ‘relaxing’ music (generally considered to have slow tempo, low pitch, and no lyrics) has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety in healthy people and in people undergoing medical procedures (e.g., surgery, dental, colonoscopy).
3. Lessens anxiety.
In studies of people with cancer, listening to music combined with standard care reduced anxiety compared to those who received standard care alone.
4. Improves exercise.
Studies suggest that music can enhance aerobic exercise, boost mental and physical stimulation, and increase overall performance.
5. Improves memory.
Research has shown that the repetitive elements of rhythm and melody help our brains form patterns that enhance memory. In a study of stroke survivors, listening to music helped them experience more verbal memory, less confusion, and better focused attention.
6. Eases pain.
In studies of patients recovering from surgery, those who listened to music before, during, or after surgery had less pain and more overall satisfaction compared with patients who did not listen to music as part of their care.
7. Provides comfort.
Music therapy has also been used to help enhance communication, coping, and expression of feelings such as fear, loneliness, and anger in patients who have a serious illness, and who are in end-of-life care.
8. Improves cognition.
Listening to music can also help people with Alzheimer’s recall seemingly lost memories and even help maintain some mental abilities.
9. Helps children with autism spectrum disorder.
Studies of children with autism spectrum disorder who received music therapy showed improvement in social responses, communication skills, and attention skills.
10. Soothes premature babies.
Live music and lullabies may impact vital signs, improve feeding behaviors and sucking patterns in premature infants, and may increase prolonged periods of quiet–alert states.
11. It’s heart healthy.
Research has shown that blood flows more easily when music is played. It can also reduce heart rate, lower blood pressure, decrease cortisol (stress hormone) levels and increase serotonin and endorphin levels in the blood.
12. It relieves symptoms of depression.
When you’re feeling down in the dumps, music can help pick you up - much like exercise.
13. It stimulates memories.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia but music therapy has been shown to relieve some of its symptoms. Music therapy can relax an agitated patient, improve the mood and open communication in patients.