How Music Benefits Your Brain, Heart, and Physical Health

Music has been a friend to people for eons. It improves not just your emotional and psychological health, but also your physical health and well-being.


From ancient times to the modern times we are living in today, music has been a friend to people. Studies show music can help you cope with the pressures of life by lifting your mood and spirit when you feel blue.

Listening to music is fun, enjoyable, and a proven positive habit that boosts your emotional and psychological well-being. Your choice of music can also boost your creativity and productivity.

If you enjoy listening to music, it is a good way of keeping mentally agile. According to Dutch neuropsychologist Erik Scherder, music triggers a system of recompenses in the brain that activates feelings of happiness. You feel happier listening to your favorite songs.

Some scientists even claim that people who listen to music regularly are smarter and can retain more information for longer periods of time than those people who do not listen to any music throughout the day.

Apart from improving your emotional and psychological health, music has also been found to improve people’s physical health. The heart, the brain, the eyes, and many other physical aspects are impacted by your response to music.

So, how exactly does music improve your overall health and well-being?


10 Ways Music Improves Your Physical and Mental Health


musical background with a treble clef and notes


Here's how music benefits your brain, heart, and physical body for good health and well-being:  


1. Music relieves physical pain


Music is a tested and proven pain relief method that is used as a creative type of therapy. A study performed on patients who underwent surgery had half of the patients listen to music before, during and after the operation, while the other half did not listen to music. The study showed significant  results and quicker pain relief for patients who listened to music.

Because music can have such a powerful impact on a person's mindset and physical perception of pain, it should come as no surprise that music therapy is a clinical method of intervention that health professionals often recommend to patients.


2. Music fights stress and resultant symptoms


Music is a tool many people use to divert their attention and uplift their spirits. Listening to happy or relaxing music, particularly on stressful days, can alleviate stress, as well as the physical manifestations that come with stress like headaches, insomnia, low energy and tense muscles. This is so because music helps release serotonin, the happy hormone, in the brain.


3. Music improves your visual and verbal skills


Learning to play musical instruments has been shown to have positive effects on people’s visual and verbal skills. This link is seen in musicians because they use their sensory organs more often than most people, leading to enhanced verbal skills. In addition, early music training has been shown to stimulate a child’s visual and verbal intelligence.


4. Music keeps an aging brain healthy


As we grow old, the brain also grows old and starts to show signs of ageing, like forgetfulness and inability to remember things. Listening to music is one effective way to keep the brain active.

“There are few things that stimulate the brain the way music does,” says one Johns Hopkins otolaryngologist. “If you want to keep your brain engaged throughout the aging process, listening to or playing music is a great tool. It provides a total brain workout.”

Listening to music also shows positive effects on most of the cognitive functions of the brain, including memory and logic. Relaxing music, for example, may help you retain memory while upbeat and happy music can help keep the brain alert.


5. Music improves heartbeat, pulse rate and blood pressure


Different types of music can have different effects on a person’s heart rate. For instance, classical and instrumental music can help keep the heart at a slow and normal pace, while rock and dance music can increase heart rate. This, in turn, can affect blood pressure accordingly.

Depending on what your goal is, you can select songs to achieve the desired heart tempo, say, when exercising or while working in your office.


6. Music helps the function of blood vessels


Because of the effects of music to the heart rate and blood pressure, listening to music can have direct effects on the health and function of blood vessels. Studies conducted by Michael Miller, MD, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland showed that joyful music have positive and healthy effects on the functions of blood vessels.

When study participants heard joyful music, their blood vessels dilated by 26% — a very healthy response. It's a similar response in magnitude as seen after aerobic exercised. A healthy blood flow contributes to a normal heart rate, which helps your cardiovascular system to be healthy, too.

However, listening to music that made volunteers feel anxious narrowed blood vessels by 6%, which is not good. "These results were music to my ears because they signal another preventive strategy that we may incorporate in our daily lives to promote heart health," Miller explained.


7. Music boosts your immune system


Scientists from Sussex University and the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany reported that listening to upbeat or dance music can increase the antibodies’ levels in the body, which in turn enhances the function of the immune system.

Furthermore, listening to positive and upbeat music can decrease the feeling of stress, which is a known culprit that weakens the immune system. Just 50 minutes of uplifting dance music can boost your immune system.

“We think the pleasant state that can be induced by music leads to special physiological changes which eventually lead to stress reduction or direct immune enhancement,” Dr Ronny Enk, a neurocognition expert at the Max Planck Institute, who led the research, told The Telegraph.


8. Music reduces depression and anxiety


On a lower level of anxiety, music is an effective way to divert one’s attention and help focus on the positive while listening to happy and upbeat music.

For chronic anxiety and depression cases, research showed that listening to music has a significant and positive influence on the parts of the brain that manages depression and anxiety. Music therapy is seen to lower the anxiety and depression levels of these individuals.


9. Music wards off age-related hearing loss


A study by Canadian researchers published in the journal Psychology and Aging found that life-long musicians have less age-related hearing problems than non-musicians.

The researchers attributed this to a "use it or lose it" type of phenomenon, as musicians are regularly required to use their auditory skills. If you want to ward off age-related hearing loss, listening to music may help.


10. Music improves your language skills


A study led by Nina Kraus, director of Northwestern’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at the School of Communication, found that music training introduced as late as high school, sharpened teenagers’ hearing and language skills. It also improved the brain’s responses to sound. 

Another research (Wong et al., 2007) found that musicians have a more finely-tuned system for encoding pitch. They can detect changes in how high or low a sound is. This makes it easier for musicians to learn new languages because they can more readily detect the auditory differences. In other words, music improves language performance, even in children.


In Conclusion


Evidently, there are loads of benefits in listening to music. You can easily access your favorite songs through music streaming apps and listen to your own curated playlist. Make listening to music a part of your daily routine to add more color, health, and vitality into your life.

Steve Scott is a content writer at Headphonatics. He loves to write up-to-date articles on music, the best headphones, and related audio tech news, tips and reviews.