How does music have positive and negative effects on our health?

There’s no one who doesn’t love a good tune. Whatever mood you’re in, there’ll always be a song that’s just right for the occasion, it’s the perfect way to express any emotion, and even one of the best antidotes for sadness. Music has even become a recognised therapy in the world of psychology.


So there’s no doubt that music has some incredible effects on our moods and minds, but what about our health in general? To warrant its own therapy, music must surely be useful for more than just cheering us up. Here are some effects of music on our health – both positive and negative!



Music does wonders for your heart


Music helps us relax, it can be soothing or can even just act as a distraction from the stress of everyday life. Either way, as a result of reduced stress and anxiety levels, music can have an indirect effect on the health of your heart.


Stress increases your heart rate and blood pressure, so whatever your plan, whether it’s just playing your favourite songs at home, or if you plan on reaping the benefits of music therapy, you might find that putting on some tunes whilst you sit back and relax takes the burden of stress off of your heart.


Music has also been pretty important throughout history in terms of meditation and breathing exercises. Improving your respiratory system in turn keeps your heart healthy, and meditation exercises have been proven to keep stress, anxiety and several diseases at bay.


It can be harsh on the ears


We all know that we shouldn’t listen to music too loud, especially when we’re playing through earphones. We’re constantly reminded to watch out for our ears, by family members, friends and even by warnings that come up on many devices now.


The trouble is though that many of us dismiss these warnings, we like our music to be loud enough to block out the sounds of public transport, busy streets, screaming children etc. It’s the perfect escape. But music can be more harmful to our ears than you might think.


Every time you listen to loud music, you damage the structure of your ear, and gradually this leads to hearing loss. You might think that poor hearing is a long way off, but even those in their teenage years have been found to struggle with hearing loss thanks to blasting loud music through their headphones.


Music can act as a pain killer


This one might sound a bit unbelievable, but it’s true, music has been proven to help relieve pain. Rather than popping an aspirin, it might be just as effective to put the radio on.


It’s not clear exactly why music has such effective pain relieving qualities, it’s a topic that’s still being looked into by scientists around the world, but there’s no doubt that it does work as a reliever.


Studies have seen people with painful symptoms, from minor headaches to the agonising discomfort of post-surgery patients, relieved from their pain by musical treatment.


This could be down to reducing stress and anxiety levels, perhaps by relaxing the mind the body follows suit. Or it could even be a result of music affecting dopamine release in the brain, dopamine levels playing a big part in the amount of pain we experience. But either way, what’s important to know is that it works. Listening to a few songs might just be the answer next time you run out of painkillers – it’s a much more natural remedy as well.


Music can improve your memory


There’s a reason we all remember lyrics after just a few times listening to a song, but forget a well rehearsed speech instantly. Music is great for improving memory.


This effect is again related to dopamine, but I won’t bore you with too much scientific detail. Basically, dopamine is also related to memory and learning abilities, and so when we listen to music and dopamine is released in our brains, our memory is perhaps stronger than ever.


This is why children are often taught through music in their early stages of development – we pick up on things more quickly when they’re embedded in music.


Music is key to keeping us fit


Music can be really motivational, we feel good whilst listening and put a little more effort into whatever it is we’re doing. It helps us give 110%, which is great for our health when that 110% goes into a workout.


Most of us listen to music whilst exercising, it makes the whole process slightly more enjoyable and even gives us a beat to move to. With music to listen to, we’re more likely to spend longer exercising and as you know, exercise is great for your body. It can improve your mood, help with weight loss, and keep you generally fit and healthy.


Another way that music gets us moving is of course through dance. There are certain songs we can’t help but dance around to, and though it may not feel like a workout, each move we bust burns a few more calories. Thanks to music, a night out might actually be doing your body a favour.



So there are the main effects of music that you need to know.  Much like most other things we enjoy, there are some negative effects to listening to music, but the they definitely don’t outweigh the positives. So long as we don’t crank up the volume of our iPods or MP3 players too dramatically, our ears won’t take a beating from any loud music.


The chancers are that there are more positive effects of listening to music than you knew about. From relaxation, to keeping us fit, and keeping diseases at bay, there are definitely some great advantages to simply listening to your favourite songs.