Music can boost creativity and help you exercise,
M OST people spend a large part of their day listening to music. The radio’s an essential part of the school run, a workout would be boring without a great playlist, and you can’t dance a Saturday night away in silence.
Scientists have been researching the benefits of listening to music too, with some surprising results — in fact, researchers from Radboud University in the Netherlands and Sydney’s University of Technology recently found listening to ‘happy music’ can make us more creative.
But music can do a lot more than just make you more creative. Here are five other amazing things you didn’t know music could do for your mind, mood and wellbeing.
1. Help you exercise Most people would find going for a run without music boring, but they might not know they would also find it physically harder. Music has been proven to have the ability to synchronise your rhythm and movement, distract you from fatigue, and aid with muscle memory.
Costas Karageorghis, a leading expert on the psychology of exercise based at London’s Brunel University, argues music is “a type of legal performance-enhancing drug.”
2. Make you smarter The positive impact listening to music can have on somebody’s ability to study are long known, and the term the ‘Mozart effect’ has made its way into popular usage.
The term comes from a 1993 study which purported that participants who listened to Mozart, as opposed to silence or verbal relaxation instructions, scored higher marks in spatial-reasoning tasks in an IQ test. There was no long-term impact on IQ points however — but if that’s what you’re after, learning to play music yourself, rather than just listening to it, might help.
Lutz Jancke, a psychologist at the University of Zurich, has said that: “Learning to play a musical instrument has definite benefits and can increase IQ by seven points, in both children and adults.”
3. Jog your memories There’s a reason why music is sometimes used as a form of therapy, particularly in care homes and for people with memory problems. For instance, the British Alzheimer Society offers a service called ‘Singing for the Brain’, which they say ‘gives challenges to the brain’ and ‘helps concentration’ in people with memory problems.
4. Make you happier Listening to music you like causes your brain to release dopamine, which sends signals to the parts of your brain associated with reward and pleasure, and suppress cortisol, the ‘stress hormone’. Medical doctor Dan Robertson says: “This will work with any of your favourite songs — even sad ones will produce the desired effect.” This means listening to music is directly linked to lowered stress levels and heightened levels of happiness.
5. Help manage pain Research by Brunel University and Queen Mary University found that listening to music before, during, or after surgery leaves patients needing less pain medication than those who have not listened to music.
Child and adolescent counsellor, Deborah Pearce, says: “Music is effective in pain relief as it has the ability to relax the mind and body. Recently, a client of mine was anxious and worried about having a tooth extraction. We worked together to find a suitable piece of music she could listen to beforehand.”
HIGH NOTE: From the Mozart effect to gym playlists, music can give us all a lift.