Mu­sic can do so much more for us than just lift our spir­its

RSWLiving - - Department­s - BY ERIK ENT WISTLE

In my “Stay Tuned” col­umn on mu­sic and well-be­ing that ap­peared two years ago on these pages, I con­sid­ered mu­sic’s sur­pris­ing po­ten­tial to help us lead ful­fill­ing, healthy lives. Since that time, it seems that ne arly ev­ery week has brought news re­gard­ing the ben­e­fi­cial ef­fects of mu­sic. Re­cent stud­ies are not only con­firm­ing pre­vi­ous find­ings, but pre­sent­ing new and ex­cit­ing rev­e­la­tions as well. In my pre­vi­ous col­umn I touched on some of these, but would like to present a more de­tailed list this time around. Take a look be­low to see how mu­sic has been shown to en­hance well-be­ing and even help in re­cov­ery from ill­ness. This is just a sam­pling of what mu­sic has proven to be ca­pa­ble of do­ing for us. • Height­en­ing pos­i­tive emo­tions

• Stim­u­lat­ing the re­ward cen­ters of our brains

• Re­duc­ing chronic pain

• Al­le­vi­at­ing anx­i­ety

• Im­prov­ing im­mune func­tion

• In­duc­ing a med­i­ta­tive state

• Treat­ing in­som­nia and other sleep dis­or­ders

• Im­prov­ing blood flow

• Slow­ing the heart rate

• Low­er­ing blood pres­sure

• Pro­mot­ing the body’s pro­duc­tion of an­ti­bod­ies

• Eas­ing stress be­fore surgery

• Lim­it­ing the need for seda­tives dur­ing surgery

• Im­prov­ing post-sur­gi­cal out­comes and re­duc­ing pain

• Re­duc­ing long-term mor­tal­ity in heart at­tack vic­tims

• Less­en­ing the risk of falls in the el­derly through mu­sic and move­ment

• Help­ing Parkin­son’s pa­tients with their mo­bil­ity

• Ac­cel­er­at­ing lan­guage re­cov­ery af­ter a stroke or trau­matic brain in­jury

• Help­ing me­mory re­call for peo­ple suf­fer­ing from de­men­tia

• Sooth­ing pre­ma­ture ba­bies while help­ing them gain weight more quickly

• Bol­ster­ing autism spec­trum dis­or­der pa­tients’ so­cial skills

• Sup­press­ing lev­els of stress hor­mones and in­flam­ma­tory cy­tokines

• En­cour­ag­ing more in­tense work­outs

• In­creas­ing en­durance dur­ing ex­er­cise

• Has­ten­ing post-work­out re­cov­ery

• Mak­ing time fly by quickly

• Trig­ger­ing mem­o­ries and as­so­ci­a­tions

• Get­ting in touch with your emo­tions

• Re­liev­ing symp­toms of de­pres­sion

• Pro­mot­ing the brain’s plas­tic­ity by es­tab­lish­ing new nerve con­nec­tions

• Ac­ti­vat­ing nearly ev­ery re­gion of the brain

How many of these ben­e­fits have you no­ticed in your life, and un­der which cir­cum­stances would you like to use mu­sic more of­ten, and more ef­fec­tively? Re­mem­ber: It’s never too late to add more mu­sic to your life. For what else—be­sides mu­sic—can of­fer such a di­verse ar­ray of po­ten­tial ben­e­fits? Pi­anist, in­struc­tor and mu­si­col­o­gist Erik En­twistle re­ceived an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree in mu­sic from Dart­mouth Col­lege. He earned a post-grad­u­ate de­gree in piano per­for­mance at Washington Univer­sity in St. Louis. He earned his doc­tor­ate in mu­si­col­ogy at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Santa Bar­bara. He teaches on Sani­bel Is­land.

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