Staying fit can have lasting benefits throughout your life, but physical fitness is only part of the goal. Keeping your brain active and healthy can pay dividends in old age as well. Listening to, dancing to, or performing music can give your brain a good workout without you realizing it.
Music has been shown to be good for your brain in a variety of ways. It can help people process information while also soothing and relaxing them. Here are five ways music can improve your health.
Music can fight depression
Along with cognitive benefits, music can also improve mental health. Elderly individuals with dementia saw improvement in both cognitive functions and depression after participating in music therapy sessions. Music therapy can involve writing music, singing, dancing, or even just listening to music. Playing happy, familiar music is an inexpensive, effective way to help fight depression.
New music challenges the brain
Music stimulates the brain, and it seems that new music may make the brain work even harder. Scientists say music gives your brain a workout because the brain has to make sense of the notes and sounds. While listening to familiar tunes from your youth is fun and good for your brain, keeping up with new songs and musical styles may give your brain an extra workout. Turn on the radio and listen to the latest hits, and you may find you like what you hear — once your brain gets used to the new sounds.
Music can help dementia patients
People with dementia or Alzheimer’s may have difficulty communicating and can feel anxiety with new situations. Playing familiar music can help a person recall words and communicate their needs with caregivers. Music can also help calm people and ease the transition to new activities or tasks. Dancing and singing together, or just listening to music, can help people with dementia connect with their family.
Kasey Bradburn, operations manager for Granite Mesa Health Center, said, “Music can have enormous benefits for a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s. The songs that a person knows and remembers can help bring back happy memories and ease anxiety.”
Create social connections through music involvement
Seniors often feel isolated and lonely as they move into a new phase of life that may have fewer connections to loved ones and friends. Getting involved in music can help give people new opportunities for social involvement. Join a choir or a band, or go dancing to meet new friends with similar interests.
Improve overall brain function
Music can improve several brain functions, such as memory and processing. Researchers found that older adults had better processing speed and memory when classical music was playing in the background. Listening to music that was more pleasing to the subject generated the most benefit, though any music at all led to better performance than no music. So, turn on your favorite tunes, and you may find you can think a bit better.
Giving your brain a workout can be easier and more fun than you might think if you give music a try. Turn on your favorite music, try out some of the new tunes, or join a band and reap the health rewards. Unlike a physical workout, it’s unlikely that you’ll pull any muscles in the endeavor, so this exercise is all benefit at no cost.