Listening to music can help your body fight infection
Listening to, learning, and playing music has a multitude of health benefits. Here’s how music helps you.
Listening to songs reduce blood pressure
In a 2008 study at the University of Maryland Medical Centre, researchers measured the blood pressure of 10 people as they listened to music of their choice. They found the participants’ blood vessels dilated by 26 per cent after listening to music they found “joyful”, compared with 19 per cent after watching a funny video and 11 per cent after listening to relaxing sound recordings.
“We see the effects immediately, which suggests there is a direct effect on the blood vessels,” said Dr Michael Miller, the cardiologist who led the study. “Music seems to harmonise the body's autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for involuntary actions such as heart rate, digestion and perspiration.”
Music cuts surgery pain
A 2005 Swedish study of 75 patients having hernia surgery under general anaesthetic found that those who had music playing during their operation reported less pain afterwards. A 2011 study, published Frontiers in Psychology, corroborates the research, finding patients who listened to a range of “joyful” music, such as Bach and Louis Armstrong, while having a hip replacement needed less anaesthetic and had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Music can help lower stress levels and may trigger the release of oxytocin, a hormone that helps relaxation and pain tolerance.
It helps with dementia
A study earlier this year found dementia patients who heard a live performance by a singer, compared to those who listen to song recordings, communicated and remembered better. Many were able to recall where they were, the time of day and people's names four weeks after the experiment. Their memory of recent and past events also showed improvement.
“Often music triggers a memory, and not just a song but maybe the time and place when the person heard it,” says Helen Odell-Miller, professor of music therapy at Anglia Ruskin University.
In her work, Professor Odell-Miller has found making music using instruments, singing, and clapping helps dementia patients communicate.
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