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Listening to Your Favorite Tunes May Help Improve Health — Here’s How

Music is powerful. It can take us back to a moment in time, lift our moods, or create an atmosphere of romance. If you’ve ever felt like music has a positive effect on how you feel, you’re onto something — Harvard scientists have already written about the many potential health benefits of music. These researchers pointed out that ancient Greek, Chinese, Native American, and African cultures believed that music has healing powers. Long before music was captured on records, CDs, MP3s, or streaming services, it was being used as a powerful cure to various ailments. Here are three of the major ways music may help your health.

To Ease Pain: Try Soothing Strings

Whether your back is hurting or your joints are sore, tune into a classical music station while going about your day and you may reduce body aches, suggests a 2022 study in the journal Science. Researchers found that when they played orchestral music (specifically Bach’s “Réjouissance”), to mice, the mice felt less pain. The key was playing the music at a “sweet spot” volume of 50 decibels — the pleasant level of low background music you might hear in a fine-dining restaurant or elevator. Scientists suspect this level of sound distracts the brain just enough to tamp down transmission of pain signals.

To Boost Heart Health: Try Gospel Tunes

Gospel music is famous for how it makes the heart soar, and research suggests the joyful sounds of gospel (and other upbeat tunes) do more than just lift your spirits. Research in the journal Circulation found that those who heard joyous music for 30 minutes daily showed signs of improved vascular health. Harvard scientists say the brain processes sound in the same region that regulates heartbeat and breathing, so hearing uplifting sound may trigger the body to slow your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure.

To Eat Less: Try Mellow Music

At dinner, listen to your favorite slow and jazzy songs. A 2021 study in the journal Appetite found that listening to jazz music with a slow tempo led participants to make healthier food choices than those who listened to faster music. There’s also evidence that slower songs may help us eat more slowly. A study in Psychological Reports showed that atmosphere has an effect on how much we eat, and music plays a large role — the study ultimately suggested that slow, mellow music helped diners at a fast food restaurant eat less.

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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