Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

In one ear and out the other: Health benefits of music

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?


What potential health benefits can music provide?-Source 

In what ways does music benefit us?

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.


What research has been done?

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).


Professional cyclist Joseph Veloce listening to music as he trains for the Pan Am games-Source

How is this used in the real world?

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.


Music Therapist Kirsten Davis playing for a hospital patient-Source

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, <>  

Jabr, F 2013, ‘Lets Get Physical: The Psychology of Effective Workout Music’ Scientific American, Accessed on 14th April 2016, <;

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, <>

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, <;








4 comments on “In one ear and out the other: Health benefits of music

  1. zoeb156
    April 20, 2016

    I’m so glad someone did this because I completely agree! I play multiple instruments and whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed with Uni work or anything, playing the piano or drums usually helps me to refocus and take my mind off things. I like that you mentioned that it’s actually music therapy, not many people (that I’m aware of anyway) know about this profession. I’d be interested to know if it has the same effect on animals, especially those that are recovering from abuse or similar situations (however this may be hard to find?) loved it anyway! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. tristanfernandez
    April 20, 2016

    Thanks so much for the positive reply! I agree that music is a wonderful tool that is often times taken for granted by the majority of people and is something that people should be aware about (especially making people aware of music therapy like you said). I also think your idea about investigating the potential benefits of music on animals is a great idea! Looking into this i found an interesting paper that suggests that when exposed to music, cats under general anaesthesia will continue to exhibit auditory processes that control nervous system activity. The researchers suggest that this could mean that music exposure during surgery could mean that cats could be given lesser doses of the anaesthesia and thus reduce the risk of surgery procedures (Mira et al., 2015). So this is certainly an interesting area for future research. Thanks for the comment!

    Mira, F, Costa, A, Mendes, E, Azevedo, P, and Carreira, L 2015,’Influence of music and its genres on respiratory rate and pupil diameter variations in cats under general anaesthesia: contribution to promoting patient safety’, Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery,pp.150-159.


  3. clschult
    April 22, 2016

    Excellent blog Tristan! It is thorough and interesting. I know myself I turn around from the gym if i left my iPod at home otherwise my focus would not be there. I also feel that motivational videos also provoke strong emotion and can an effect on performance. It is coherent and well structured, with a lot of supporting references. It takes a good perspective on the social and ethical implications. I think there could be another nice visual representation or video that could lift this just that little bit more to entice the reader. 🙂 Really well done an enjoyable read.


  4. bryce1234567
    May 7, 2016

    Hi ,This is an interesting topic . In particular the part on cyclist when you stated that ” cyclists who synchronised their movements to the sound of background music would use less oxygen than those who were not exposed to the background music.”. I looked into this further and came across an article on music’s effects on people who listen to it while doing work. it explained that if you listen to music at high volume you will become overwhelmed and struggle to process information but at “moderate noise levels [they had ] increase[ed] processing difficulty which promoted abstract processing, leading to higher creativity. ”( Belle Beth Cooper,,7/05/2016) it went on to add that lower level volumes were not as effective at promoting creativity because the increased processing difficulty wasn’t present. This is a great blog with a lot of good points and is an easy read, thank you.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on April 14, 2016 by in Burwood - Friday 2pm.

Deakin Authors

%d bloggers like this: