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Music probably plays a powerful role in your life, but what does it do for your health? A lot, a huge body of scientific research suggests — music is very much a mental multivitamin that affects your everyday physical and cognitive functioning!

Using Music To Boost Performance

Do you ever find yourself listening to upbeat music while you clean the house, while you exercise, or when you go for a jog outside? You'll doubtlessly end up singing along, adjusting your movements to the tempo of the music, and going faster. Performing physical activities is easier when great songs keep us company, but does listening to music actually improve your performance?

According to one study, listening to music definitely increases performance: runners finished their first 800 meters more quickly if they listened to inspirational music, both compared with people who didn't turn on any music at all and those who tried with calm music.

Interestingly enough, the research found that this "motivational music" could be either slow or fast — as long as it inspires you, it will make you faster! Though this study specifically looked into running, it's hardly a stretch to conclude that you'll perform any physical activity better if you listen to music that motivates you are doing it. 

Can Music Help People With Memory Impairment And Brain Damage?

Knowing that prior research had already shown that singing can help language-learners acquire new phrases more easily, one team of scientists set out to discover whether listening to music and singing could also help people with Alzheimer's Disease. Elderly people with early-stage Alzheimers were randomly assigned to one of three groups in the study. One group focused on listening to music, discussing it, and reminiscing about memories related to the music. Another was more actively, incorporating singing and movement in the classes alongside listening to music. The third group, the control group, didn't feature the introduction of more music to the patients' lives. 

Both groups that were exposed to music showed an improvement in mood, overall wellbeing, and memory, with the group of Alzheimer's patients who engaged in singing having better working memory after participating in the project for 10 weeks than those who focused on listening to music. 

Further research from various countries additionally revealed that music also has the power to help people who had strokes recover faster. That is, listening to music several hours a day helped with concentration as well as language recovery and mood. Teppo Särkämö, the lead author of a Finnish study into the benefits of music for stroke patients suggested that "everyday music listening during early stroke recovery offers a valuable addition to the patients' care- especially if other active forms of rehabilitation are not yet feasible". 

Does Music Also Benefit Physical Health?

You bet! The currently available body of research clearly shows that heart attack survivors and other heart patients had lower blood pressure, slower heart rates, less anxiety about their medical condition, increased blood flow, and less pain if they listened to music for 20 to 30 minutes a day. 

Music and singing are integral parts of every culture on Earth. You've certainly already experienced the way in which music can make you feel better, comfort you, help you sleep, and boost your productivity. Now you know that music offers a science-backed way to reduce stress and depression and increase memory as well! Music, as it turns out, is no less important than healthy eating, regular exercise, or taking a daily nutritional supplement. Music isn't just something that shows we're human, it actually makes us healthier — so turn up the volume!

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