We don't generally listen to music because of its health benefits - but rather because we like this or that singer, tune, or style of music.
Yet there are loads of health benefits in listening to most kinds (but not all kinds) of music. Here are just a few:
Music reduces stress by triggering biochemical responses.
Scientific researchers have shown that music therapy can help alleviate depression, stimulate memory, and relax patients in otherwise stressful situations.
Music is good for the heart in a physical as well as emotional sense.
It increases our serotonin, endorphin, and dopamine levels. Even listening to music improves the circulation of the blood - and playing it is even better.
Music has the psychological effect of reducing pain in a process of what doctors call "decreasing pain perception."
Finally, there's a school of thought that says music can help you lose weight! This one sounds like a long shot - but it's true. If you lower the lights and play some relaxing music, people tend to eat more slowly - and eventually feel satisfied with less food than they'd normally consume.
The Ifs and Buts
But what about the ear-splitting music we hear blaring from certain "boom boxes" in cars? That's physically painful - and, like ultra-loud festival or club music, can even damage your hearing.
The evolution of new kinds of protest music have subverted the art-form and turned joyful, healing sound into something that deliberately hurts. Although there's a musical place for controlled anger, there can only be health disbenefits when music encourages hatred and violence.
Choose the Benefits!
With the entire range of music only a click away, the individual can be drawn in either direction: towards life, pleasure and good health - or to another, deeply miserable place. Common sense tells us we'd be wise to choose music that comes with benefits. Fortunately, most of it does.
This article is part of Lifetropics' "Health Benefits of..." series. Check out the others!