Sunday, December 4, 2011

15 reasons why listening music is key to healthy lifestyle?

Why listening music brings positive emotions?

There's no doubt that listening to your favorites music can instantly put you in a good mood. It can be considered in some way as a core function in our brain. Yes, our brains are wired from the beginning to process and understand music. Yet music has always been sort of a mystery, especially since it's not typically considered "necessary" for survival, as it is not part of the “the must” trio food, sex, and sleep.

However, when we satisfy our desire to eat, to sleep, or reproduce, our brain releases dopamine-- the "feel good" neuro-chemical involved when we experience pleasure and reward. The recent study, conducted by researchers at McGill University in Canada, revealed a surprising fact that the same chemical is released when listening to music.

From an academic standpoint, this is a fascinating study. According to the researchers, this may be the first study to show that an abstract reward such as listening to music - as opposed to a tangible reward such as eating and sleeping - releases dopamine. We've traditionally considered abstract rewards to be processed on a more cognitive level, but this study shows that our ancient reward circuits can be involved.

Additionally, it points to a shared neural network involving tangible and abstract rewards. We already know that skills such as speech production use shared neural networks to those used to sing. This study shows a similar relationship, demonstrating shared neural circuitry involving how our reward circuits process tangible and abstract rewards.

From a practical standpoint, this will not affect your average day-to-day listening. Just know that, when you experience an emotion while listening to music, ancient reward circuits are flooding your brain with a chemical designed to make you feel good.

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Health Benefits of Music

Multiple scientific researchers have also proved that music can do more for you than just lift your spirits. It is absolutely clear that it has plenty of health benefits. For example, a fresh research from Austria has found that listening to music can help patients with chronic back pain. Another recent survey by Mind - the mental health charity - found that after counseling, patients found group therapy such as art and music therapy, the most useful.

Here, we are going to review several proven ways on how listening music may positively affect your health and general wellbeing.  

1.                  Effective Therapy for Pain

Overall, music does have positive effects on pain management. Music can help reduce both the sensation and distress of both chronic pain and postoperative pain. Listening to music can reduce chronic pain from a range of painful conditions, including osteoarthritis, disc problems and rheumatoid arthritis, by up to 21% and depression by up to 25%, according to a paper in the latest UK-based Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Music therapy is increasingly used in hospitals to reduce the need for medication during childbirth, to decrease postoperative pain and complement the use of anesthesia during surgery.

There are several theories about how music positively affects perceived pain:

  • ·         Music serves as a distracter.
  • ·         Music may give the patient a sense of control.
  • ·         Music causes the body to release endorphins to counteract pain.
  • ·         Slow music relaxes person by slowing their breathing and heartbeat.

One of the popular theories elaborates that music works on the autonomic nervous system - the part of the nervous system responsible for controlling our blood pressure, heartbeat and brain function - and also the limbic system - the part of the brain that controls feelings and emotions. According to one piece of research, both these systems react sensitively to music.

When slow rhythms are played, our blood pressure and heartbeat slow down which helps us breathe more slowly, thus reducing muscle tension in our neck, shoulders, stomach and back. And experts say that apart from physical tension, music also reduces psychological tension in our mind.

In other words when we feel pain, we become frightened, frustrated and angry which makes us tense up hundreds of muscles in our back. Listening to music on a regular basis helps our bodies relax physically and mentally, thus helping to relieve - and prevent – for example, back pain.

Clinical psychologist Franz Wendtner who led one of the related recent studies in Austria's General Hospital of Salzburg says: “Music is an important part of our physical and emotional wellbeing - ever since we were babies in our mother's womb listening to her heartbeat and breathing rhythms. Listening to music for about 25 minutes every day for at least ten days can help prevent back pain and also make you sleep better.”

Which type of music is best? Experts believe any type of classical music such as Mozart or Beethoven can help relieve muscle pain. Calm, slow music is also thought to help.

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2.                  Reducing blood pressure

By playing recordings of relaxing music every morning and evening, people with high blood pressure can train themselves to lower their blood pressure - and keep it low. According to research reported at the American Society of Hypertension meeting in New Orleans, listening to just 30 minutes of classical, Celtic or raga music every day may significantly reduce high blood pressure.

3.                  Medicine for the heart

Music is good for your heart. Research shows that it is musical tempo, rather than style. Italian and British researchers recruited young men and women, half of whom were trained musicians. The participants slipped on head phones and listened to six styles of music, including rap and classical pieces, with random two-minute pauses. As the participants kicked back and listened, the researchers monitored their breathing, heart rates and blood pressure. The participants had faster heart and breathing rates when they listened to lively music. When the musical slowed, so did their heart and breathing rates. Some results were surprising. During the musical pauses, heart and breathing rates normalized or reached more optimal levels. Whether or not a person liked the style of music did not matter. The tempo, or pace, of the music had the greatest effect on relaxation.

Research presented at the 2009 European Society of Cardiology Congress in Barcelona, Spain suggests that music therapy is effective not only at treating, but also preventing the heart-related events, including the lethal cases of sudden death. All of the patients in the study had heart issues serious enough to necessitate revascularization, a surgical procedure designed to restore blood flow where it has been compromised or limited. That meant they were at risk for a future coronary event not only because of their heart health status, but also because the fear of a potential repeat surgery likely increased their stress and anxiety, which is never good for the heart.

 And what type of music did the patients listen to during the study? Classical music appeared to be the general preference, but the lead author of the study emphasizes that music therapy may actually have a negative effect if patients are forced to listen to music they don’t like, suggesting that the type of music (within reason) is not as important as whether you enjoy listening to it and how it affects your overall mood and stress levels.

4.                  Speeds Post-Stroke Recovery

A daily dose of one's favorite pop melodies, classical music or jazz can speed recovery from debilitating strokes, according to the latest research. When stroke patients in Finland listened to music for a couple of hours each day, verbal memory and attention span improved significantly compared to patients who received no musical stimulation, or who listened only to stories read out loud, the study reports.

5.                  Chronic headaches & migraine remedy

Music can help migraine and chronic headache sufferers reduce the intensity, frequency, and duration of the headaches.

6.                  Music boosts immunity

Music can boost the immune function. Scientists explain that a particular type of music can create a positive and profound emotional experience, which leads to secretion of immune-boosting hormones. This helps contribute to a reduction in the factors responsible for illness. Listening to music or singing can also decrease levels of stress-related hormone cortisol. Higher levels of cortisol can lead to a decreased immune response.

7.                  Music improves memory performance

The power of music to affect memory is quite intriguing. Mozart's music and baroque music, with a 60 beats per minute beat pattern, activates the left and right brain. The simultaneous left and right brain action maximizes learning and retention of information. The information being studied activates the left brain while the music activates the right brain. Also, activities which engage both sides of the brain at the same time, such as playing an instrument or singing, cause the brain to be more capable of processing information.

Listening to music facilitates the recall of information. Researchers have shown that certain types of music are a great "keys" for recalling memories. Information learned while listening to a particular song can often be recalled simply by "playing" the songs mentally.

That is why, music listening especially is helpful for medical conditions, associated with memory loss and impairment. For many people suffering from memory loss the spoken language has become meaningless. Music can help patients remember tunes or songs and get in touch with their history. This is because the part of the brain which processes music is located next to memory.

Researchers from Norway's Sogn Og Fjordane College compared the effects of live, taped and no music on three different groups of people suffering from post traumatic amnesia - or memory loss. The patients were exposed to all three conditions, twice over six consecutive days. Results showed that when patients listened to live or taped music, two thirds of them showed significantly reduced symptoms of anxiety and enhanced orientation, compared to the group that didn't listen to music.

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8.                  Music improves concentration and attention

Easy listening music or relaxing classics improves the duration and intensity of concentration in all age groups and ability levels. It's not clear what type of music is better, or what kind of musical structure is necessary to help, but many studies have shown significant effects.

9.                  Music improves physical exercises effectiveness

Experts say listening to music during exercise can give you a better workout in several ways. Scientists claim it can increase your endurance, boost your mood and can distract you from any discomfort experienced during your workout.

The research: Dr Robert Herdegen of America's Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked at the effects of 12 men riding a bicycle for ten minutes while listening to music on one day. He compared it to the same men riding bicycles without music for ten minutes the following day. On the days that the men exercised listening to music, they travelled 11 per cent further - compared to the days they didn't listen to music. Researchers also found that the men's levels of exertion were at their lowest when listening to music.

Other studies show that listening to music releases endorphins - our natural 'feel good' hormones that lift our mood and give us motivation to carry on longer with exercise. The best type of music for exercise is thought to be high energy, high tempo music such as hip hop or dance music.

10.              Music improves body movement and coordination

Music reduces muscle tension and improves body movement and coordination. Music may play an important role in developing, maintaining and restoring physical functioning in the rehabilitation of persons with movement disorders.

11.              Fatigue fighter

Listening to upbeat music can be a great way to find some extra energy. Music can effectively eliminate exercise-induced fatigue and fatigue symptoms caused by monotonous work or household related activities.

Keep in mind that listening to too much pop and hard rock music can make you more jittery than energized. Vary what you listen to and find out what type of music is most beneficial for you. You could try classical music one day, pop the next day and jazz the third.

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12.              Relaxing music induces sleep

Relaxing classical music is safe, cheap and easy way to beat insomnia. Many people who suffer from insomnia find that Bach music helps them. Relaxing music reduces sympathetic nervous system activity, decreases anxiety, blood pressure, heart and respiratory rate and may have positive effects on sleep via muscle relaxation and distraction from thoughts.

Researchers have shown just 45 minutes of relaxing music before bedtime can make for a restful night. The Taiwanese researchers studied the sleeping patterns of 60 elderly people with sleep problems. They told the Journal of Advanced Nursing, how the technique was easy to learn and lacked the side-effects of other treatments. The study participants were either given a choice of music to listen to before going to sleep or nothing at all. The music group were able to choose from six tapes that featured soft, slow music - around 60-80 beats per minute - such as jazz, folk or orchestral pieces. Listening to music caused physical changes that aided restful sleep, including a lower heart and respiratory rate, the researchers found. The people in the music group reported a 35% improvement in their sleep, including better and longer night-time sleep and less dysfunction during the day.

According to another study from University of Toronto, Canada, a wide range of classical music assists insomniacs to sleep. Handel's "Water Music," Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons," Brahms "Lullaby," Mozart's "Baroque Music," Debussy's "Arabesque #1" and Strauss's "Waltzes" are among the most successful pieces used in the treatment of insomnia. However, J.S. Bach's "Cello Suites" or his "Goldberg Variations," the latter literally written for a nobleman who had difficulty sleeping, are perhaps the apex of serene and soporific melodies.

There's even a CD of violin and harp music by Gidon Kramer and Yaoko Noshino called "Insomnia." Released by Philips in 2000, this recording contains tunes by Satie, Strauss and Cage, among others, all designed to lure the insomniac into sweet dreamland.

13.              Music reduces stress and aids relaxation

Listening to slow, quiet classical music, is proven to reduce stress. Countless studies have shown that music's relaxing effects can be seen on anyone, including newborns. One of the great benefits of music as a stress reliever is that it can be used while you do your usual deeds so that it really doesn't take time.

How does music reduce stress?
·                     Physical relaxation. Music can promote relaxation of tense muscles, enabling you to easily release some of the tension you carry from a stressful day.
·                     Aids in stress relief activities. Music can help you get "into the zone" when practicing yoga, self hypnosis or guided imagery, can help you feel energized when exercising and recover after exercising, help dissolve the stress when you're soaking in the tub.
·                     Reduces negative emotions. Music, especially upbeat tunes, can take your mind off what stresses you, and help you feel more optimistic and positive. This helps release stress and can even help you keep from getting as stressed over life's little frustrations in the future. Researchers discovered that music can decrease the amount of the cortisol, a stress-related hormone produced by the body in response to stress.

14.              Music improves mood and decreases depression

Music is one of the best relaxation therapies in today’s times of depression. The stress-buster effects of soothing music are well known but in many cases it has also been observed that the time taken in healing process reduces miraculously due to music.

If you are in a sad-depressed mood and you listen to a sad song, the feeling is bound to get on your nerves and you are bound to either feel better or start feeling bad. The mood swings are also affected to a good extent with the musical effects. Ask a person in love how he/she feels while listen to a sweet romantic song and you would get ample indication about the magic effects of music. It is an excellent way to lift the spirit, to reduce anxiety, develop a sense of well being and to promote a feeling of peacefulness. Also whenever our mind is tense and body tired up, music acts as a perfect method to calm down the state of mind and relax. 

Music's ability to "heal the soul" is the stuff of legend in every culture. Many people find that music lifts their spirits. Modern research tends to confirm music's psychotherapeutic benefits. Bright, cheerful music (e.g. Mozart, Vivaldi, bluegrass, Klezmer, Salsa, reggae) is the most obvious prescription for the blues.

As it turns out, performing music can be relaxing and can create a distraction from withdrawal symptoms; songwriting can help patients confront impulse control and self-deception and allows an output for negative emotions; hence the entire songbook of Raffi.

15.  Music helps to fight addiction

It has even been found that listening to music can help aid the detox stage of recovery from drug addiction, and if applied frequently could cut down on the number of pain-killers patients need.

Music directly affects chemicals called neurotransmitters which relay information in our head. Drugs work in a similar way, except they make your brain lazy and convince it to stop making its own chemicals. But when you stop taking drugs, your brain isn't making enough chemicals and it doesn't know why because it relies on those drugs to get enough, so your body fails to function correctly. Introducing music can increase levels of some chemicals associated with heavy addictions, like dopamine and norepinephrine.

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