You don't have to be a neuroscientist to recognize that music has an effect on your mood. Music evokes memory, inspires creativity, alleviates boredom, lifts spirits, and enhances motivation during a workout. But can listening to music boost your physical health and, in particular, your immune system?
The answer appears to be a resounding yes.
For decades, scientists have been exploring the power of music from various angles: How does music affect everyday tasks? Does music influence states of arousal? Can music alter the response to stressors? Does music improve depression and anxiety? Can music improve recovery from surgery? Does type of music make a difference?
One of the largest studies determined that music has an impact on social bonding and management of mood; additionally there appears to be a unique relationship between stress, music, and immunity. It goes like this: frequent stress raises the level of the hormone cortisol in the bloodstream; too much cortisol deteriorates the immune response, making us more prone to illness and certain chronic diseases. Listening to our favorite "uplifting music" calms the mind and body enough to lower levels of cortisol and raise the levels of antibodies associated with fighting infection.
What Kind of Music is Best for Health Benefits?
Because musical preference is such a personal matter, it's difficult to study all the different styles and the impact on individuals. However, we can do our own research: experiment with the types of music you're listening to and record the results. Before and after listening, measure your heart rate or blood pressure and keep a journal of your mood.
Researchers are examining the healing effects of music composed specifically in tune with physiological measures and brain wave patterns. If you have specific health concerns, consider having a music therapist design a customized program for you. Ask your natural medicine practitioner for a referral.