Music might be the food of love according to Shakespeare but, if you believe the latest scientific research, it might also be one of the ingredients you need for a healthy state of mind and body. While some studies indicate results that may make intuitive sense, such as that listening to high-tempo music helps us exercise, others seem to credit music with near-magical properties, capable of helping with everything from back pain to high blood pressure.

So what can music do for you? Here we outline the main benefits to your mind and body.


Rock Your Body

A review of over 400 scientific papers on the subject of musical neurochemistry found that music might be more effective than prescription medicines for some issues, such as reducing stress before surgery. The same review also found that it boosted levels of a particular antibody present on mucous membranes in the body, as well as immune cells designed to attack bacteria, and could thus help to both prevent and fight infections.

Relaxing music in one Frontiers in Psychology study, defined as anything the participants liked that was slower than 120 beats per minute, was even able to reduce the amount of pain experienced by fibromyalgia patients, compared to a control group who listened to pink noise. These patients also experienced an increase in their mobility.

According to Lottoland, listening to music we enjoy also encourages the brain to produce endorphins, much like when we exercise, and improve blood circulation by up to 26%. Healthier circulation reduces the risk of heart problems and high blood pressure, with patients from 63 to 95 noticing a drop in blood pressure after just 25 minutes of relaxing music every week for a month.

In a similar vein, music also reduces the level of cortisol, a stress hormone, in the body. This hormone has numerous effects, one of which is increasing the risk of obesity.


Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Shockingly, it has been suggested that music could even reduce depression, notoriously a hard disease to treat, by 25%. ICU patients showed a third less anxiety immediately after listening to music and an Australian study found that, after surveying more than 1,000 people, those who attended music gigs, concerts and shows regularly tended to report a higher level of satisfaction with their lives.

What result you get also varies depending on what kind of music you enjoy. Researchers at the University of Queensland in Brisbane performed a study that showed that aggressive rock music helped listeners to process their anger and move on better. On the flip side, the journal Nature Neuroscience published a study in 2011 indicating that certain classical tunes gave listeners the chills, leading to the release of dopamine, one of the many happiness chemicals in the brain.

However, the benefits for the mind from listening to music aren’t just emotional; studies also indicate that it could improve your cognition and concentration.

Classical music again gets a good rap from a 2007 Stanford study, which found that music from the late baroque period – think Bach or Vivaldi, led to changes in the brain that help with attention and memory storage. Similarly, people who cycle while listening to music of between 100 to 145 beats per minutes seem to need, on average, 7% less oxygen and are capable of travelling 11% further.

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