April 25, 2024

Is music good for your health?

Whether sitting on a Mexican beach with a margarita, listening to Brian Eno’s Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks or slipping about in a moshpit mud bath to some aggressive thrash metal, you can rely on music to soundtrack any situation life might present. It is evident that rhythms of varying intensity can profoundly affect our mental state, but is music beneficial to our psychological and physical health? And, if so, how can we unlock its full potential?

When considering our well-being, ambient yoga soundtracks may seem like a great place to start. Indeed, they may well be, but catharsis can be found in the strangest places. What appears more critical is exploring therapeutic music within your personal tastes: one may deem Joy Division depressing, but the band’s catalogue has no doubt remedied more melancholics than that of ABBA.

Although it’s very much a case of personal preference, countless studies have been conducted to measure the salubrious effect of different types of music. In 2023, Dr Mark Jude Tramos, MD PhD, who previously served as the director of the Institute for Music & Brain Science at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, claimed that the music of the Australian hard rock band AC/DC is markedly health-giving

During an episode of the AC/DC Beyond The Thunder podcast, Tramos said AC/DC’s thunderous beats and punchy riffs facilitate the release of pleasure hormones, namely endorphins and dopamine, which bring about feelings of satisfaction and well-being.

Of course, this was a study presented on an AC/DC podcast. In the broader, unbiased world, we can derive that music by all manner of artists can give that hypothalamus a good squeeze. 

Elsewhere in his analysis of AC/DC’s health benefits, Tramos noted that Angus Young’s thrashing riffs might also help enhance focus and alertness. Such an effect could be perceived as more genre-specific, given that, in the workplace, intense, lyrical music can be more distracting than a calm instrumental alternative. One can, however, imagine AC/DC’s upbeat music to be a terrific boon to weightlifters and ironmongers.

Beyond mental health, scientists have shown music to be instrumental in aligning a sound mind with a tip-top physical state. Below, we list nine surprising health benefits of music as documented by NorthShore University, Illinois.

Nine ways music can boost your health: 

Heart Health: Studies indicate that music can promote better blood flow, reduce heart rate, lower blood pressure, and decrease cortisol levels while increasing serotonin and endorphin levels in the bloodstream.

Mood Enhancement: Music has the power to elevate mood by stimulating the brain’s production of dopamine, thereby alleviating feelings of anxiety and depression. Its direct processing by the amygdala, responsible for emotions, further contributes to its mood-enhancing effects.

Stress Reduction: Listening to music triggers biochemical stress reducers, making it an effective tool for stress relief.

Depression Relief: Music can uplift spirits much like exercise, offering solace during periods of melancholy.

Memory Stimulation: While music cannot cure Alzheimer’s or dementia, music therapy has shown promise in alleviating symptoms by relaxing patients, improving mood, and fostering communication.

Pain Management: Through stress reduction and the provision of a competing stimulus to pain signals in the brain, music therapy aids in managing pain.

Pain Alleviation: Music has been found to significantly reduce the perceived intensity of pain, particularly in geriatric, intensive care, or palliative care settings.

Appetite Regulation: Playing soft music and dimming lights during meals can encourage slower eating, leading to reduced food consumption in one sitting.

Workout Endurance: Listening to energizing workout tracks can enhance physical performance and increase endurance during challenging exercise sessions.

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