For millions of people all over the world, music is a way of life. They spend hours a day listening to their favourite artists – whether that be on the way to work, in the gym, relaxing at home or doing almost anything else.
It doesn’t matter if you’re tuned in to the radio, trawling through Spotify on your phone or playing your favourite record on a vinyl turntable, there’s an endless amount of joy to be had from hearing those familiar – and the sometimes not-so-familiar – sounds wash over you.
But could there be more advantages than just the sheer enjoyment it brings? We all know about the importance of exercising regularly or of making sure we eat a balanced diet, but what are the health benefits of listening to music?
A mood booster
When we hear an upbeat tune – especially if it’s one of our favourites – endorphins are released in our bodies and these help us to feel happy and excited. It also enables us to produce dopamine, a hormone linked to feelings of pleasure. And upbeat songs are more likely to make us dance, which tends to act as an instant mood lifter.
Music can also help those who suffer from memory loss. It can be used to help them recall events from the past by playing songs or pieces that they associate with those moments in time. This can assist them in remembering themselves and/or their loved ones, which in turn has a positive impact on their mental health.
Experts say that the familiarity of our favourite songs – being able to predict the next lyric or the next collection of notes – creates a feeling of security within our brains. This can help to reduce the production of cortisol, which is a hormone strongly linked to our stress levels.
Enhance physical performance
A lot of people listen to music when they work out in the gym because they find an upbeat song that will get them pumped up and ready to go. And there’s no doubt that the rhythm of a tune can help you stay in the zone when you’re lifting weights or doing a HIIT class. However, some long-distance runners find that having music coming through their headphones can play havoc with their pacing. That’s why many choose to listen to podcasts instead.
This may not be the case for every genre, of course, but music can help to relax us and put us in a state of calm as we drift off. It can reduce the time it takes for us to nod off as well as improve the quality of our sleep – all of which have a positive impact on our overall well-being.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.