Everyone who knows me personally hears me consistently describe the many virtues and joys of music. In dealing with older folks and especially those with dementia, it is particularly remarkable to see them light up and actively sing all the words of their favorite “old” tunes even when they no longer recognize their children.
Now we are learning the following fascinating scientific facts:
Music may improve our moods and mental health as much as exercise.
Those of us who love our music can attest to how listening to it – let alone singing and dancing to it or actually playing it – can turn an ordinary day into a special one.
And now a recent report from the Journal of American Medicine*, as distinguished as any medical reporting, concludes that the mental health benefits we can derive from music is actually comparable to that we derive from exercising.
Both music listening and active music-making have been shown to activate the dopaminergic pathway. Those pathways are involved in cognitive processes like executive functioning and motivation. That helps explain scientifically how an upbeat tune may put you in the mood to clean, and classical music may lead to better attention and focus.
The authors of the study agree that “future research is needed to clarify optimal music interventions and doses for use in specific clinical and public health scenarios.” But at its simplest, it appears for us music lovers that it stands alongside exercise as a healthy way to boost our mood and improve our mental health.
So whether your favorite music is Taylor Swift, Jimmy Buffett or Rachmaninoff, the scientists say: Enjoy and there’s no harm in dancing along.
So, will you PLEASE join me in getting inspiration and so much fun from music along with all the health benefits? Please share this blog with those you love and share your plan with me!
*Researchers analyzed data from 26 studies involving a combined 779 adult participants. Each study measured the impact of making and listening to music on health-related quality of life (HRQOL). The review found “moderate-quality quantitative evidence of associations between music interventions and clinically significant changes in mental HRQOL.” After comparing that evidence to data on other approaches, the authors noted that the results are within the range of the “average effects of established non–pharmaceutical and medical interventions (e.g., exercise, weight loss).”