New Study Confirms It: Music is a Must for Your Good Health ... and Your Brain
A new study in the journal Heart has good news for music
lovers: whether you are seeking arousal and vivaciousness
or calm and relaxation, music is a must. What's more, the
researchers found that such reactions are good for your heart.
Participants in the study listened to raga (Indian classical
music), Beethoven's ninth symphony (classical), rap (the Red
Hot Chili Peppers), Vivaldi (fast classical), techno and Anton
Webern (slow "dodecaphonic music").
When listening to fast music with complex rhythms (classical,
techno, etc.), participants' breathing and circulation sped
up--the faster the music, the greater the degree of physiological
arousal. Meanwhile, slower music (raga, etc.) created a fall
in heart rate and induced calm. The reactions occurred regardless
of the individuals' musical preference.
During two-minute pauses in the musical sequences, all indicators
of arousal fell below levels recorded before listening to
any music. The researchers say these reactions could be helpful
in heart disease and stroke.
Great Music for any Mood:
Calm, Relaxation, Arousal
Music for Stress Reduction and Job Burnout
Music is, of course, also an excellent tool for stress relief,
as anyone who's ever zoned out to their favorite CD after
a hard day can attest to. A sense of calm can be achieved
not only from listening to music, but also from making it.
A landmark study published in Advances in Mind-Body Medicine
found that a Recreational Music-Making (RMM) program, in which
employees use percussion instruments together to create a
sense of camaraderie, drastically reduced employee burnout
and mood disturbances among long-term care workers. Long-term
care is one of the most stress-prone industries, and it suffers
from a high rate of employee turnover, burnout and dissatisfaction.
So researchers were pleased to find that RMM reduced total
mood disturbance by 46 percent among this group. Plus, during
the program many experienced "a refreshing sense of group
nurturing and support, coupled with heightened interpersonal
awareness and respect, which prompted ongoing meaningful dialogues."
Like Sleep? Try Music
A study published in the February 2005 edition of The Journal
of Advanced Nursing found that older adults with sleep problems
who listened to soft music at bedtime reported a 35 percent
improvement in their sleep. The participants slept longer
and better, and had less daytime dysfunction, after listening
to 45 minutes of music before bed.
"The difference between the music group and the control
group was clinically significant," said Hui-Ling Lai,
lead author of the study. "The music group reported a
26 percent overall improvement in the first week and this
figure continued to rise as they mastered the technique of
relaxing to the sedative music."
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There's no question that music has a beneficial effect on
your mind. A 2004 study in the journal Heart & Lung even
found proof. People who listened to
music while they exercised, researchers said, performed more
than twice as well on a verbal fluency test than people who
listened to no music.
Said the study's lead author, Charles Emery, " ...
Listening to music may influence cognitive function through
different pathways in the brain. The combination of music
and exercise may stimulate and increase cognitive arousal
while helping to organize cognitive output."
Music Therapy on the Rise
Music therapy, the clinical and evidence-based use of music
interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a
therapeutic relationship, is a growing field. According to
the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy can
be used to help:
Children, adolescents, adults and the elderly with mental
health needs, developmental and learning disabilities
Alzheimer's disease and other age-related conditions
Substance abuse problems
Acute and chronic pain, including mothers in labor
As certified music therapists continue to pop up in psychiatric
hospitals, rehabilitative facilities, medical hospitals, outpatient
clinics, day care treatment centers and more all over the
country, it's clear just how much impact music can have on
You can find out what effects music has on you right from
your own home--just pop in your favorite CD, sit back and
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