Why Listening to Music Can Make You as Fit as a Fiddle; It Can Help Your Body Fight Infection and Recover after Surgery

Daily Mail (London), June 16, 2015 | Go to article overview

Why Listening to Music Can Make You as Fit as a Fiddle; It Can Help Your Body Fight Infection and Recover after Surgery


Byline: CHLOE LAMBERT

WHETHER it's singing in a choir, listening to Bach in the car or dancing to disco, most people enjoy some form of music and increasingly it is being shown to have health benefits, too.

Researchers have found that classical music especially compositions by Giuseppe Verdi can significantly lower the listener's blood pressure. And last month, another study found that regularly listening to music improved both short-term and long-term memory in people with dementia. Music therapy is also used in aiding stroke patients and to help those with Parkinson's learn to walk again.

Here we explore how listening to, learning and playing music helps ...

how songs reduce blood pressure ONE of the most intriguing ways in which music improves health is its effect on the heart and circulation.

In a 2008 study at the University of Maryland Medical Centre in the US, researchers measured ten healthy people's blood pressure as they listened to music of their choice. Their blood vessels dilated by 26 per cent after listening to music they found 'joyful', compared with 19 per cent after watching a funny video and 11 per cent after listening to relaxing sound recordings.

Keeping blood pressure low means the blood vessels are less likely to stiffen and become blocked, which can lead to heart disease and attacks. Dr Michael Miller, the cardiologist who led the study, now prescribes listening to music to patients.

'We see the effects immediately, which suggests there is a direct effect on the blood vessels,' he says. 'Music seems to harmonise the body's autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for involuntary actions such as heart rate, digestion and perspiration.' Dr Miller thinks there maybe an evolutionary explanation. 'Music was part of our ancestors' socialisation process,' he says. 'It enabled us to form and develop relationships important for our survival.' Other research has shown that listening to favourite music triggers the release of nitric oxide, which helps blood vessels maintain elasticity and function.

bach cuts surgery pain MANY surgeons listen to music while operating, and it may be good for patients, too even while they're under anaesthetic.

A 2005 Swedish study of 75 patients having hernia surgery under general anaesthetic found that those who had music playing during their operation reported less pain afterwards.

This is thought to be because music lowers stress hormone levels and may trigger the release of oxytocin, a hormone that boosts relaxation and tolerance of pain.

A 2011 study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, found patients who listened to a range of 'joyful' music including Bach and Louis Armstrong while having a hip replacement needed less anaesthetic and had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Listening to music may help the body defend itself from disease and infection, too. A review of 400 studies, published in 2013 by McGill University, in Canada, found music raised levels of natural 'killer cells'. British and German research published in 2008 showed listening to 50 minutes of dance music raised levels of antibodies in volunteers' bodies, probably because it reduced stress.

it helps with dementia A STUDY last month found that dementia patients who heard a live performance by a singer and then listened to her songs and those of others on MP3 players, showed improved communication and memory function.

Four weeks after the experiment, many were able to recall where they were, the time of day and people's names. Their memory of recent and past events had also improved.

'Often music triggers a memory, and not just a song but maybe the time and place when the person heard it,' says Helen Odell-Miller, a professor of music therapy.

Professor Odell-Miller has also found making music using instruments, singing and clapping helps dementia patients communicate. …

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