Can music benefit you like exercise does?

Several studies have shown that music can have several benefits to a person’s mental and physical health, and could even improve mental health as much as exercise does.

Is listening to music comparable to exercise when it comes to health?

The Journal of the American Medical Association conducted a meta-analysis of 26 studies, surveying over 700 individuals. The meta-analysis concluded that listening to music can have benefits that improve a person’s health-related quality of life.

  • “According to the study authors, the mental health boost from music is ‘within the range, albeit on the low end’ of the same sort of impact seen in people who commit to physical exercise or weight loss programs,” reported Science Alert.
  • Although it doesn’t serve as a complete replacement for physical activity, “music interventions may present a more attractive and effective non-pharmaceutical alternative to other health interventions,” according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Music can increase the quality of life.

The meta-analysis also shows that music added to other medical interventions was shown to significantly improve health-related quality of life, according to JAMA.

  • Another study published in SAGE journals states that “Music has been associated with reduced anxiety in young adults, enhanced mood and purpose in adults and mental wellbeing, quality of life, self-awareness and coping in people with diagnosed health conditions. Music and singing have been shown to be effective in enhancing morale and reducing risk of depression in older people.”
  • PET scans show that while listening to music, the brain will release amounts of dopamine. A study by Nature neuroscience had each participant listen to music they enjoyed, and monitored their body reactions.
  • When listening to music they enjoy, a person will exhibit physical and mental reactions to the music as a pleasure response, the study reported.

Music to increase physical stamina

According to the National Library of Medicine, listening to music has been shown to aid in physical activity and even reduce fatigue.

  • “Music listening across a range of physical activities to promote more positive affective valence, enhance physical performance, reduce perceived exertion, and improve physiological efficiency,” according to the National Library of Medicine.

Limitations in research

In general, listening to and making music has been shown to improve life quality in a significant way. But there are limitations to these findings, given the use of music in our health care systems is limited, according to JAMA.

  • “The magnitude of music’s positive association with HRQOL (health-related quality of life) is still unclear, particularly relative to established interventions, limiting inclusion of music interventions in health policy and care,” according to the JAMA study.

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