Music for the Mind

Do you ever find yourself humming to a tune while you are waiting in line? Or what about jamming along to your favorite song that just came on the radio? Do you even find yourself singing in the shower? Well, if you answered ‘yes’ to any of the questions above, then you have already experienced some of the beneficial effects of music. Music has been around for centuries and it is simply defined as tones or sounds that express ideas and emotion. Music surrounds us everyday and varies across cultures, generations, and people. Whether you prefer classical, jazz, rock, or pop, research shows that music has both mental and physical benefits for our bodies.

Mental Health

The imminent stress that accompanies upcoming midterms and finals can leave college students mentally drained and exhausted. With the help of a little music, you can reduce your anxiety. While everyone has a different preference of background music while they study, soft music playing in the background has been shown to improve some people’s ability and efficiency to complete tasks. Maybe your roommate’s loud, obnoxious rock music isn’t exactly your taste, nor might it create an environment suitable for your studying. But give classical or jazz music a try and see how that affects your ability to focus. Listening to upbeat music before you take an exam may be a strategy to consider, as music can calm nerves and help you perform better under high-pressure situations.

When used as a meditative medium, music can induce therapeutic effects. Many types of musical therapies have been developed to help people who may be coping with a traumatic event. For some, listening to music reduces anxiety and improves their mood.

Physical Health

Music can also have a positive impact on physical health. For starters, listening to music during your workout is a great way to improve your endurance and boost physical performance. When you listen to music, this distracts your brain from focusing on the developing fatigue and exhaustion. If you want to increase your mileage on a run but find yourself stopping short of your goal, try creating a playlist with your favorite tunes to listen to as a means of upping your workout motivation. This will trick your brain into thinking about something else rather than on the muscle fatigue.

If you find yourself suffering from insomnia, playing classical music before bed has been found to effectively treat sleep issues. When it comes to eating, music plays a part as well. Have you ever noticed how some restaurants will play soft music in the background as you eat your meal? Well, it turns out that there might be a reason behind that. The soft background music influences people in a way that encourages them to eat slower, perhaps to reflect the more relaxed beat of the tune. When people eat slower, they end up eating less food because they will be more mindfully aware of the amount of food they are putting into their mouths.

In addition to its entertainment value, music has been shown to have a practical side as well. From reducing stress to improving sleep or enhancing endurance, music has truly shown its wide-range of effects on our day-to-day activities.
Michelle Chen is a sophomore at Cornell University majoring in Nutritional Sciences with a concentration in Dietetics. She plans to enter the field of medicine.


Photo Credit: Sammy Gitlin

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