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The Benefits of Music: How Listening to Music Impacts Your Health

Author: Ashley Boynes-Shuck

The famous philosopher Plato once said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.”

Many of us curate the perfect playlists for our workouts, or have music playing while we work, commute, or cook up our fave Noom recipes in the kitchen. Most public spaces like restaurants, shops, gyms, and even doctors’ offices also have music lulling in the background. Ever-omnipresent, music is such a consistent part of our daily lives that it would be easy not to notice it much at all.  

A recent study out of London showed that the human brain can recognize familiar music within 100-300 milliseconds. Yup, you read that correctly: milliseconds. It would seem, then, that we are hard-wired to have an affinity for music.

So, how does that play into our journey into our health and wellbeing? 

Whether it’s Britney, Bob Dylan, Bush, or Big Pun who is music to your ears, adding some tunes to your every day can make life more enjoyable on a holistic level — mind, body, and spirit! 

Here are 5 ways that music supports a healthier you:

1. Be more alert:  Learning to play an instrument (or further honing in on this existing skill) can have a positive impact on both our physical and mental health. Not only can it burn calories (especially if you’re rockin’ out!), improve flexibility and dexterity in our hands, and increase hand-eye coordination, but playing an instrument can also increases blood flow, mental alertness, brain recovery, and memory.  

A study out of Montreal found that musicians have faster auditory and tactile reaction times, plus a better practical use of multisensory information. It can also keep the fingers nimble or build muscle in the arms, depending on which instrument you play, and it has been found that playing music can boost energy, too. So the next time you want to reach for a sugary coffee concoction or energy drink that falls into the red category, you can jam out on your favorite instrument instead.

2. Get a dose of dopamine: Recent studies have shown that simply listening to the music that you love most (be it pop, rock, rap, country, classical, jazz, or something else!) causes the brain to release more dopamine! Dopamine, as you’ve learned in your Noom curriculum, is an essential neurotransmitter that helps with cognitive and emotional functions. Fun fact? Dopamine is also boosted after a good workout or dance session – and sometimes when we eat our favorite foods.

3. Boost your brain power: Circling back to the physical health benefits, it’s worth noting that in addition to improved blood flow to the brain, a boost in memory, a rush of dopamine, and better brain recovery, that music has been said to help people study better, reduces stress, and in some cases has helped patients recover from stroke or traumatic brain injury. In general, music gives our big brains a big boost! And this is important — the brain is quite literally the mastermind of the body, controlling the muscles and sending crucial messages to other nerves and organs. The brain, essentially, helps to get ‘er done in pretty much all scenarios.

4. Move more: You don’t need Kanye’s Workout Plan — you just need to add music to yours. Zumba, hip-hop dance classes, burlesque dance lessons, cardio drum fitness, pole dance fitness, ballet lessons, even classic aerobics videos and HIIT programs all rely heavily on music to make them what they are. Many runners also enjoy zoning out and listening to music during a run. And just look around the gym the next time you’re there working on your latest exercise goal with Noom! Many people are wearing earbuds or headphones and enjoying their favorite jams while, as Fergie said, “they’re up in the gym just workin’ on their fitness”! Music is pleasant to the ear and can really enhance any physical activity — and it might even help you move more. Even chores like cooking and cleaning are even made more fun by enjoying a perfectly-cultivated playlist.
5. Stress less, be more confident: In addition to all of the many physical benefits, music can alleviate stress, increase mindfulness, and if you learn to write, play, or sing music yourself, may even improve self-confidence and self-esteem. The next time you are feeling stressed out or anxious, you might consider setting a goal with your Noom coach to reduce stress through music. Brainstorming what this might specifically look like could start a really meaningful and engaging conversation, and may even be something you could discuss with your Noom group, too!