May 25th, 2018

To Your Health: Music is a powerful tool for better health

By Gillian Slade on February 12, 2018.

If you use headphones to feed music to your ears while exercising physically you already know the benefits of music distracting you from the effort your body is enduring.

If your eyes have spilled tears of emotion while you watched a parade and listened to a military band you understand the power of music.

There are physical benefits, mental health benefits, better quality of sleep benefits and even cognitive benefits.

There is a documentary movie that demonstrates the benefits of music to those with dementia. Typically the family members of the patient know the songs that have always been favourites and that is a good place to start. The benefit and preference for one piece of music over another should be easy to observe.

There is research to suggest music can help you cope better with pain. While music can’t take away pain it can be a distraction helping to temporarily reduce the intensity of the pain.

Tranquil music can help to relax tense muscles and take your mind off the things you are worrying about.

Typically when we are feeling stressed, just received bad news or had an argument, we want to reach for the phone to tell someone else about it, have another cup of coffee, choose an alcoholic drink or some other form of medication. Simply sitting in a comfortable chair and listening to a favourite, relaxing piece of music may give you all the physical and mental benefits you need.

Research shows that music can be good for your blood vessels and increase the blood flow.

Classical music in particular can address insomnia issues and bring relief from depression too. The benefits of music when it comes to anxiety issues can be similar to that of getting a massage.

A study in Finland found that stroke patients who listened to music for two hours each day had improved memory and were more positive in outlook.

Personally, I have found playing music, without looking at any visuals such as a video, is better. Close your eyes and remember the scenes that first made the piece of music a favourite.

Here’s to good music and its positive influence on our health and here’s To Your Health.

To Your Health is a weekly column by Gillian Slade, health reporter for the News, bringing you news on health issues and research from around the world. You can reach her at gslade@medicinehatnews.com or 403-528-8635.

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