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Music May Have Health Benefits

5 months, 1 week ago

3170  0
Posted on Feb 14, 2024, 7 p.m.

Music often speaks when words fail, its universal language soothes your mind, lifts spirits, brings back memories, and provides comfort, and encouragement. Research shows music has benefits ranging from stress relief to improved moods, connecting us to others, and helping to keep our minds sharp. The results from the University of Michigan Nation Poll on Healthy Aging of 2,657 adults between the ages of 50 to 80 years old which was subsequently weighted to reflect the American population show that there are other positive benefits gained from listening to music and in making our own. 

Whatever you prefer to do musically, whether it be playing the piano, singing in a choir, writing sheet music, or listening to the radio, findings from this study indicate that nearly all older adults say that music brings them more than just entertainment. With the rates of depression, loneliness, and social isolation increasing, the power of music to connect people and support healthy aging should not be underestimated, as previously reported on trends in loneliness and social isolation in older adults. 

8% of the respondents reported singing in a choir or other organized group occasionally, 8% said they play an instrument occasionally, 46% report singing a few times a week, 17% play an instrument a few times a year, 85% report listening to music at least a few times a week, 80% watch musical performances occasionally, 41% said they attend live performances a couple of times a year, and many reported making music with other people occasionally. 

Three-quarters of the respondents between the ages of 50 to 80 said that music helps them to relax or relieve stress, 65% say that music boosts their mood or mental health, 60% report feeling energized or motivated by music, and 31% believe that music helps to keep their mind sharp. These are just a few examples of the health-related benefits cited by the respondents who answered questions about both listening to and making music of all kinds.

98% of the respondents said that they think the benefits in at least one health-related way from enjoying music, 41% say that music is very important to them, and 48% said that music is somewhat important to them. 19% reported that music is more important to them now than it was in their youth, and 46% said that it is just as important now as it was then.

“Music has the power to bring joy and meaning to life. It is woven into the very fabric of existence for all of humankind,” said Joel Howell, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School who worked with the poll team. “We know that music is associated with positive effects on measures from blood pressure to depression.”

The analysis revealed that those who reported having fair or poor physical health and those who often felt isolated were less likely to listen to music every day. Older Black adults were the most likely to sing in a choir, and both Black and Hispanic older adults were more likely to say that music is very important to them. 

“While music doesn’t come up often in older adults’ visits with their usual care providers, perhaps it should,” said poll director Jeffrey Kullgren, M.D., M.P.H., M.S. “The power of music to connect us, improve mood and energy, or even ease pain (like 7% of respondents said it does for them), means it could be a powerful tool.” 

“Music is a universal language that has powerful potential to improve wellbeing,” said Sarah Lenz Lock, senior vice president of Policy and Brain Health at AARP and executive director of the Global Council on Brain Health.  “AARP’s own research shows that music can play an important role in healthy aging by improving our moods, fostering social connections and, potentially, enriching our brain health.” 

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

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