For most busy executives, listening to music is a daily pleasure. While we all have our favorites, you may be interested to learn that different types of music have a profound effect on your body and psyche. Music therapy, a relatively new field of medical care, has clearly shown that music can achieve significant results for everyone from cancer patients, to children with ADD, to help with pain management, to keep depression at bay, and even to ease muscle tension.
So how does music impact the body? Researchers found that music creates changes in brainwave activity levels. Subsequently, brainwave alterations change other bodily functions. For example, brainwaves governed by the autonomic nervous system – such as breathing and heart rate – are affected. Thus, music with a strong beat can stimulate brainwaves to resonate in sync with the beat, with faster beats enabling sharper concentration and alert thinking. Soothing music with a slower beat promotes a calm, meditative state, facilitating a sense of well-being and creativity, a change which lasts long after the music has ceased to play. Music also enables the brain to shift speeds more easily on its own, which means that even after you’ve stopped listening, music provides lasting health benefits.
Lowering blood pressure, which also reduces the risk of stroke and other health problems, is another significant benefit to music therapy. In a recent Italian study, researchers found that people with mild hypertension (high blood pressure) who listened to classical, Celtic or Indian (raga) music for 30 minutes a day for one month had significant reductions in their blood pressure. The effects of this music calmed the cells and tissues that make up the lungs thereby bringing patient’s breathing and heart rate to normal.
Music also has the ability to reduce pain through a release of endorphins which act as natural pain killers. According to a study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, listening to music daily can reduce chronic pain by up to 21 percent.
One interesting study reported in Time magazine (2008) was designed by the neuroscientist Damir Janigro, who was also a patient. While prepping for spinal surgery, one of many surgical procedures that require patients to be awake for several hours, Janigro realized headsets like those in dentist’s offices would have minimized his apprehension greatly.
His subsequent study was unique because it examined the activity of thalamic and subthalamic neurons, which are located in the same area where a neuronal pacemaker is implanted during deep-brain stimulation. His study was so successful in calming patients and controlling blood pressure that Janigro anticipates that following institutional approval, music will be used during certain neurosurgical procedures this year.
Music is an easy way to add healthful benefits to your day – upbeat music with your morning workout to burn more calories, calming music at dinner to induce the body to reduce the levels of the stress hormone cortisol and aid digestion, and soothing music at the end of the day to calm the stress and the tiredness and help you fall asleep.
The doctors at EHS Corporate Care prescribe music for everyday health. If you are seeking alternative methods to improve your health or manage existing conditions, our professionals are here to educate and inform you of your options.
Authorized for use by John P. Mamana, M.D.