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Good things music can do to your health

News » Lifestyle

Good things music can do to your health

Written by Ruth Olurounbi


NATURALLY, music affects the body and mind in many wonderful ways. Music affects human thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Just its rhythm affects the body, making the pulse and respiration to flow in tune with the music’s beat or rhythm.  Music could relax or energise an individual, and some certain genre of music could affect us deeply, in a personal way.

What is more, research has also shown that music has a profound effect on the human body and psyche. As a matter fact, there’s a growing field of health care known as music therapy, which uses music to heal.

It has also been observed that those who practise music therapy find it beneficial. They find music to help cancer patients, children with attention deficit disorder (ADD), just as some hospitals are beginning to use music and music therapy to help with pain management, to help ward off depression, to promote movement, to calm patients, to ease muscle tension, and for many other benefits.

Researchers at the University of Maryland of School of Medicine, Baltimore, found that listening to one’s favorite music may be good for one’s cardiovascular system.

Not only that, they realised that emotions aroused by joyful music have a healthy effect on blood vessel function.

The researchers found that because music selected and listened to by research respondents made them feel good and brought them a sense of joy, the tissue in the inner lining of blood vessels dilated (or expanded) in order to increase blood flow. On the other hand, when study volunteers listened to music they perceived as stressful, their blood vessels were narrowed, producing a potentially unhealthy response that reduced blood flow.

The results of the study, conducted at the University of Maryland Medical Centre, and presented at the Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association, New Orleans, stated that “We had previously demonstrated that positive emotions, such as laughter, were good for vascular health. So, a logical question was whether other emotions, such as those evoked by music, have a similar effect,” quoting the principal investigator of the research, Dr Michael Miller, Director of Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Centre and Associate Professor of Medicine at the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine.

The director added that: “We knew that individual people would react differently to different types of music, so, in this study, we enabled participants to select music based upon their likes and dislikes.”

The randomised study, which featured 10 healthy, non-smoking volunteers (70 per cent male, average age 36 years), was conducted to determine how the endothelium (the lining of blood vessels) responded to a wide range of stimuli; from exercise, to emotions, and to medications.

The endothelium, Dr Ayo Fayehun, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State, said, has a great effect on blood vessel tone and regulates blood flow; adjusts coagulation and blood thickening, and secretes chemicals and other substances in response to wounds, infections or irritation. It also plays an important role in the development of cardiovascular disease, he also said.

In an article entitled Musical Minds,  it was stated that adults who had musical training as children had better word recall. “Researchers said women who went to music lessons for at least six years before the age of 12 were significantly better at remembering words than those who hadn’t.  Music could also be beneficial in treating memory loss or language difficulties,” the article reiterated.

And if the findings of a research by an international fast food restaurant, McDonalds, is anything to go by, people eat according to the speed of the music being played.  Following this research, the restaurant, with a queue building up, played fast music, thus ensuring that the customers ate quickly, and left the restaurant sooner, freeing up the table for the next customers.

Also, UK schools authorities found that classrooms were calmer with relaxing background music, “with even the most ‘unruly’ child being able to work and concentrate better,” an article on the UK website said.

Elizabeth Scott, in her, How and Why Is Music A Good Tool For Health, wrote that, at the level of the brain waves, “research has shown that music with a strong beat can stimulate brainwaves to resonate in sync with the beat, with faster beats bringing sharper concentration and more alert thinking, and a slower tempo promoting a calm, meditative state. Also, research has found that the change in brainwave activity levels that music can bring can also enable the brain to shift speeds more easily on its own as needed, which means that music can bring lasting benefits to your state of mind, even after you’ve stopped listening.”

Dr Fayehun added that music had a way of helping human beings to boost their heart and breathing rates, just as he said that music was a great way to relieve stress in the body. He said also that music was a great way to keep depressing at bay, stressing that people with high blood pressure could find music beneficial to their health.

The following, Elizabeth Scott, wrote that are some of effects of music, which she said help to explain the effectiveness of music therapy:

•State of mind: Music can also be used to bring a more positive state of mind, helping to keep depression and anxiety at bay. This can help prevent the stress response from wreaking havoc on the body, and can help keep creativity and optimism levels higher, bringing many other benefits.

•Heart rate and brain waves: With alterations in brainwaves come changes in other bodily functions. Those governed by the autonomic nervous system, such as breathing and heart rate, can also be altered by the changes music bring. This can mean slower breathing, slower heart rate, and an activation of the relaxation response, among other things. This is why music and music therapy can help counteract or prevent the damaging effects of chronic stress, greatly promoting not only relaxation, but health.

Other benefits of music, experts say, are that it is effective in reducing the risk of stroke and other health problems over time, boost immunity, and ease muscle tension, among others.

 -  Nigerian news, Lifestyle, naija, Nigeria, West Africa

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Updated 7 Years ago

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