tuning in

Ever noticed how a song can change your mood – almost instantaneously? Our brains process distinct musical sounds such as tempo, pitch, and melody differently. In fact, the beat of a song can decrease heart rate, slow breathing, and lower blood pressure – or even do the exact opposite.

Feeling blue? Turn on the radio and get ready to feel better. That’s because music can trigger the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps relieve feelings of anxiety and depression.

Playing soft music (and dimming the lights) during a meal can help you eat more slowly and, ultimately, consume fewer calories. Listening to energetic music while working out can boost physical performance and endurance, allowing you to expend more energy, release more endorphins (another hormone that elevates mood) and burn more calories. As if you needed more proof, clinicians have shown these heart-pumping sounds can help blood flood, decrease stress levels and increase serotonine and… here it goes again… endorphin levels – which all make you feel better. So put on your headphones and get moving!

Music also improves your movement and pace during cardiovascular activity. Studies support that music enhances aerobic exercise, overall performance, as well as physical and mental stimulation. Additionally, it helps during rehabilitation by getting people to focus on their exercises
and do their best to recover faster. Next time you go for a walk or run, make sure to listen to some music and test it out yourself!

Music that can be described as “relaxing” has the ability to reduce stress and lower heart rates as well as help you sleep better. Incorporate mindful breathing (inhale through your nose for four seconds, hold for four seconds, exhale for four seconds and repeat) and you will feel more relaxed and ready for sleep.

Have you ever been somewhere and heard a song you haven’t heard in years – and you remember every word? Yep. That’s because music improves memory. Studies show that repetitive elements of rhythm and melody help our brains “form patterns that enhance memory.” Stroke survivors who listen to music can experience more verbal memory, less confusion and better focused attention. For those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, music can help them recall lost memories and reduce agitation.

Music can also lessen anxiety prior to a surgery or medical procedure and decrease subsequent pain, thus aiding the healing process. The music that works best for pain management is either classical, meditative or a selection of songs you enjoy.

Listening to music is not only a healthy habit but also a tool you can use to improve your life. Listen to it on your phone with free apps such as Spotify and Pandora, where you can find every music genre. Incorporate music into your life and benefit from the difference it makes!

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