The Healing Powers of Music
Are you personally familiar with the healing powers of music? Though you may not realize this, the most likely answer is “yes”. All of us can think back to a time we weren’t in a good mood; chances are that after putting on some excellent tunes our dispositions drastically improved. This widely common phenomenon is just one of the many health-related applications of music, and there are plenty of other ways in which music improves different aspects of our lives.
It seems as though music’s neurological reach is actually pretty astounding. So much so, we have infused music into virtually every facet of our lives by making it an integral part of our identities, cultures, traditions, histories, and legacies. Furthermore, it’s one of the most important tools of communication that we have as an intelligent species. That’s why we included music on The Voyager Golden Records, which are aboard both Voyager spacecraft that launched back in 1977.
Music is now being rediscovered as an invaluable tool for improving our health and wellbeing. And, in some very specific cases, it’s positive impact can be even more powerful than standard types of medication. Hence the research that’s being conducted to understand the healing powers of music and how it can help people going through physical rehabilitation, dealing with mental illness, or even those looking to improve their lifestyle.
1) Music Gets You Moving
Anyone who has ever tried to exercise can attest to the motivating powers of music. It can be of immeasurable help when you’re pushing through the last candlestick dipper, or just trying to get yourself to start. Scientific evidence suggests that some of the healing powers of music involve distracting us from pain, reducing signs of fatigue, improving our overall mood, noticeably increasing our endurance, and strengthening our immune systems.
The first studies examining the relationship between music and exercise appeared back in 1911. An American by the name of Leonard Ayres noticed that cyclists pedaled faster while a band was playing along, than when it wasn’t. Since he made this observation, hundreds of follow up studies reached the same conclusions. Turns out the two most important qualities of workout music are tempo (the speed of the beat) and rhythm response (your instinct to break into dance). Generally speaking, stronger beats are more stimulating to athletes and laypersons alike.
2) Music Makes You Healthier
For some of us, it can be very difficult to comprehend how listening to music can help prevent disease. The thought seems distant, like something out of a sci-fi movie. But, emerging research is showing that this seemingly far-fetching idea can actually be pretty sound. For one, if you use music to get the most out of your workout, you are already in-directly utilizing it to improve your immune function, but it seems like the benefits extend far beyond this superficial connection. According to the 2013 press release put out by the McGill University:
“…A team led by Prof. Daniel J. Levitin of McGill University’s Psychology Dept. has been able to show that playing and listening to music has clear benefits for both mental and physical health… Indeed, the information gathered as part of this first large-scale review of the literature showed that music increased both immunoglobulin A, an antibody that plays a critical role in immunity of the mucous system, and natural killer cell counts (the cells that attack invading germs and bacteria).”
3) Music Makes You Calmer
Our daily lives tend to be full to the brim. We have something to do and somewhere to be from the moment we open our eyes in the morning to the moment we close them for the night. That’s part of what makes living life so amazingly exciting. But it’s also what makes it highly stressful. Numerous articles, research papers, and health practitioners emphasize the importance of winding down and decompressing at the end of the day, since the negative impact of stress on our mental and physical states is truly detrimental.
The same press release by the McGill University states that: “Listening to music was also found to be more effective than prescription drugs in reducing anxiety prior to surgery.” Research has shown that listening to calm music featuring a slow tempo, low pitch, and few lyrics can be amazingly soothing, even for those who are under a tremendous amount of pressure. Just think about the enduring popularity of classical music, and you get the idea. This is not surprising, especially considering the rise of music therapies to treat different forms of anxiety, depression, and stress-related disorders.
There are good reasons as to why music existed for as long people have roamed the earth. It’s a natural way for us to communicate, create our identity, establish traditions, and bond as a community. It’s also an incredibly successful and accessible tool for wellness and well-being, which is why Merkaela is dedicated to providing you with a carefully curated playlist (music by DJ Alex Edge) to go along with our natural products. We sincerely hope that you too will get to experience the healing powers of music.