5 Ways Music Can Help Women Heal
The great music icon Bob Marley was quoted as saying, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”
Most women have experienced this power of music at some point in their lives. An old song can transport us back in time to when we were full of energy and hope and could go all night without getting tired. Some songs remind of us of important people we’ve cared about. Others call us to get up and move, regardless of what we’re doing at the moment, because the beat is so infectious.
We know that music can be enjoyable, inspiring, and energizing, but recent research has found that it can be even more powerful than that.
Here are five healthy reasons why women may want to consider incorporating even more music into their daily lives.
- Music During Workouts Could Help Women Lose Weight
Do you listen to music during your workout? If so, it could help you to workout longer—and lose more weight.
A number of studies have shown this effect. In 2009, researchers from Brunel University in England had participants walk on a treadmill while listening to music, and then while not listening to music. They found that the music helped participants to increase their endurance, workout longer, and in general, engage in a tougher workout without realizing it.
In an earlier study of obese women, researchers found similar results. Women who listened to music while walking stuck to the program better than those who didn’t. In fact, 98 percent of them exercised regularly for 24 weeks, while only 68 percent of those not listening to music kept going for the full study period.
Even better—in the music-listening group, women lost an average of 16 pounds and 4 percent of their body fat, whereas those in the non-music-listening group lost only about half that much.
- Music Boosts Women’s Immunity
Fall is cold and flu season. Want to increase your odds of staying well? Listen to more upbeat music!
We have many studies showing this really works. Back in 1993, scientists divided participants into two groups, exposing one to selected pieces of music and the other to silence. They then measured levels of interleukin, which is an indicator of the activity of the immune system. They found that those in the music-listening group showed a significant increase in interleukin.
In 2013, researchers analyzed over 400 studies and reported that music may actually work better than prescription medications in some cases! This was particularly true for reducing stress before surgery. They also reported that music helped increase levels of IgA, a type of antibody that helps prevent infections, and boosted natural killer cells that help reduce risk of infections and cancer.
Just this year, researchers found out that music can also boost the immune system in cancer patients. They measured levels of cytokines in participants after they sang for about an hour, and found that the level went up, indicating a boost in the immune system.
Maybe it’s time to think about joining that community choir?
- Music Eases Pain
If you’re suffering from arthritis or other types of chronic pain and you’re tired of popping pain pills, you may be able to find some relief by turning on your iPod instead.
In a 2003 study, researchers tested participants suffering from chronic arthritis pain. Some of them listened to music for 20 minutes a day, while the others just sat in a quiet room. Those who listened to music experienced less pain when measured on day one, day seven, and day fourteen. In other words, it was always effective.
In 2014, researchers reported that music was also helpful for those with fibromyalgia. They allowed participants to choose their favorite music to listen to, and then measured their pain levels afterward. They found that the pain became less unpleasant and less intense.
“If music can help us lower the doses of pain medication,” said study author Peter Vuust of the Center for Functionally Integrative Neuroscience (CFIN) at Aarhus University, Denmark, “that’s fantastic.”
Still other studies have found that music helps burn patients to better deal with their injuries and treatment, while helping other patients to recover faster after surgery, experience less postoperative pain, and even reduce nausea during chemotherapy treatment.
Next time you have to go to the doctor for anything, be sure to take your headphones along.
- Music Eases Stress
We live in a stress-out world today. Women run extremely busy lives, taking care of families and jobs and parents and homes. We need tools to help us manage the stress, and music is one of the best ones.
In a 2011 study, music helped ease anxiety in cancer patients, while also improving their mood. Music was so effective that the researchers suggested it be used as a complementary treatment for people with cancer.
Scientists have dug more deeply into this to see just why it works, and found that music actually reduces levels of the stress hormone “cortisol” in the body. It also had a direct effect on the autonomic nervous system.
Other research has found that music of a particular tempo—usually with a rhythm of 60 beats per minute—can actually synchronize the brain with the beat, causing alpha waves that are normally related to a meditative state. Researchers at Stanford University stated that “listening to music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication, in many circumstances.”
- Music Can Help Cure Insomnia
Having trouble sleeping? It’s time to bring some music into the bedroom.
A study review out last year (2015) from the Center for Music in the Brain at Aarhus University found that music was effective for improving sleep quality in adults suffering from insomnia. One of the studies in the review also demonstrated that music helped reduce the length of time it took the participants to fall asleep and the number of times they woke up, and also increased the amount of sleep they got.
Other studies have found that listening to music for 45 minutes before bedtime resulted in longer sleep duration and higher sleep quality, as well as longer REM sleep, which is critical for both physical and mental health.
How to Incorporate More Music Into Your Days
To enjoy these health benefits and more, try turning on the tunes a little more often. We have some suggestions:
- Listen to upbeat, positive music when you’re working out. The more you like the music, the harder you will exercise.
- Play soothing music to reduce stress, anxiety, and pain.
- Look for music at 60 beats per minute to help you slip more easily into a meditative state.
- Listen to music that helps you chill out for 15-45 minutes before bed.
- Take your favorite tunes with you to the doctor and to the dentist.
- Use music first thing in the morning to start your day out right.
- When you’re feeling stressed in the middle of the day, turn to your music rather than to pills or unhealthy food.
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