We have all heard of the famous experiment performed in almost all science fairs that have ever been in a sitcom. That exposure to classical music will promote growth in seedlings and result in faster sprouting. Most scientific evidence does suggest that playing music to seedlings does cause higher sprouting rates, but what therapeutic effects can music have on the human body?
Since the days when cavemen would bash sticks against rocks the benefits of music as a way of communication has been well known. Music has since evolved from these primitive origins but its benefits to us are no less fundamental. Music has been proven to be a great way to reduce anxiety levels in listeners as we all know first hand, and is utilised in many hospitals during treatments such as chemo and radiotherapy to help keep the patients calm during the procedure. The effect of music on workout and sporting efficiency has also been found with a link between the tempo/speed of a song and the motivation we will have to workout. Faster songs will typically result in faster and more precise movement, thus increasing efficiency.
I for one cannot stand jogging without music, and you only need to look at the amount of joggers in the morning with headphones on to see this trend is certainly common. These effects are so pronounced that in 2007 the USA Track & Field governing body issued a ban to all use of portable media players in order to prevent any potential competitive edge. All these effects show that music can play a wonderful role in not only rehabilitation of the human body, but that it can also be used as a way to enhance physical efficiency in tasks such as working out.
The benefits of music has been researched for decades with most of the consensus being that it is an effective way to reduce the bodies stress levels and can actually be used to help patients with extreme cases of depression. A recent study has also looked into vibration treatments as being a particularly viable treatment line for sufferers of Parkinson’s disease in the future. (King, Almeida & Ahonen, 2009).
A study conducted in 2012 at Sheffield Hallam University concluded that cyclists who synchronised their movements to the sound of background music would use less oxygen then those who were not exposed to the background music. Suggesting that music can in fact help with workout efficiency (Bacon, Myers & Karageorghis, 2012).
The use of music in hospital situations to reduce stress levels is a practical implementation of the therapeutic effects of music. Cancer Research UK; a charity organisation discusses and endorses the positive effects of music on anxiety and stress levels of cancer patients, calling it music therapy. Music is also commonly used as an enjoyable way to relax in often uncomfortable situations as the sound of your favourite band is often the only reason the 8:30AM tram ride to university is bearable. Looking into the future we may come to see vibration treatments as being a potential way to reduce symptoms of some neurological disorders as more researched is conducted. These benefits are often taken for granted in our everyday lives and more healthcare facilities such as nursing homes and children’s hospitals should recognise the benefits that music can provide to mental health. Sometimes music can be the difference between a bad day and a good day for people living in healthcare facilities and this benefit should never be overlooked.
So next time you are at the kitchen table and you are told to take your ear buds out, be sure to explain you have had a stressful day and need to unwind and relax to the therapeutic effects of your favourite tune.
Bacon, C, Myers, T, & Karageorghis, C 2012, ‘Effect of music-movement synchrony on exercise oxygen consumption’, Journal Of Sports Medicine & Physical Fitness, Vol.52, No.4, pp. 359-365, Accessed on 14th April 2016.
Cancer Research UK 2015, ‘Music Therapy’ Cancer Research UK, Retrieved on 14th April 2016, <http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancers-in-general/treatment/complementary-alternative/therapies/music-therapy>
Jabr, F 2013, ‘Lets Get Physical: The Psychology of Effective Workout Music’ Scientific American, Accessed on 14th April 2016, <http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/psychology-workout-music/>
King, L, Almeida, Q, & Ahonen, H 2009, ‘Short-term effects of vibration therapy on motor impairments in Parkinson’s disease’, Neurorehabilitation, Vol.25, No.4, pp. 297-306, CINAHL Complete, EBSCOhost, Accessed on 14th April 2016.
Macur, J 2007, ‘Rule Jostles Runners Who Race to Their Own Tune’, The New York Times, Retrieved on 14th April 2016, <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/01/sports/othersports/01marathon.html?_r=0>
Novotney, A 2013, ‘Music as Medicine’, November 2013 Monitor on Psychology, Vol.44, No.10,pp.44, American Psychological Association 2013, Accessed on 14th April 2016, <http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/11/music.aspx>