Yes indeed, music is good for your health!
In fact, Music Therapy is a recognized form of treatment for a variety of disorders and conditions.
The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) states that “Music therapy is an established health-care profession that uses music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals of all ages.”
I am sure that you will agree that playing music or listening to your favourite tunes makes us feel good.
So now, wearing my medical hat, I want to look at the scientific evidence that confirms what we all think and feel. Here are some proven benefits of music:
1. Stress relief.
People listening to music are calmer, and their levels of stress hormones are reduced. These stress hormones contribute greatly in the long run to heart disease, diabetes and other conditions. So less stress hormones is a good thing.
2. People who listen to music have been shown to actually learn better.
3. Muscle relaxation is another benefit achieved by listening to music. This is especially important with people who have tension headaches, back or neck pain.
4. Better sleep: Studies have suggested that listening to music before going to bed may help with insomnia
5. Music promotes good exercise habits.
Listening to music during a workout, makes the time fly by, allowing one to continue working out and not be bored.
6. Music is used in general hospitals to alleviate pain in conjunction with anesthesia or pain medication.
7. According to the AMTA, music is used with elderly persons to increase or maintain their level of physical, mental, and social/emotional functioning. The sensory and intellectual stimulation of music can help maintain a person’s quality of life.
The notion of the positive effect of music on health and wellbeing is actually quite old.
In fact, it goes back to the ancient times of Aristotle and Plato. In the U.S.A., after the world wars, local musicians visited hospitals and played for veterans suffering both physical and emotional trauma. The veterans’ positive physical and emotional responses to music led the hospital to actually hire musicians.
It soon became apparent that these “hospital musicians” needed some training before entering an institution or hospital. This resulted in the first music therapy degree program in the world at Michigan State University in 1944. So this is how music turned into therapy.
However, music is not just for treatment because as you can see from the above, we can all use a little music in our lives.
As we enter a new year, a resolution to listen to or play more music is a healthy one.
I wish you and yours a happy, health and musical New Year!
Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, MD, CM, MPH, FRCP(C)
Medical Officer of Health and Chief Executive Officer,
Eastern Ontario Health Unit