Study Shows that Listening to Music is Relaxing and Healing
A fascinating study about the health benefits of music was the focus of an article published December 4, 2018, in Psychology Today.
The study by researchers at Juntendo University in Japan and led by Kenichi Itao was published February, 2018, in Scientific Research. While it is well-known that listening to music has health benefits, no one ever tried to find out just how music can be relaxing and healing, so the goal of the study was to find out how listening to music can relax us. Modern life is so stressful and ongoing stress can lead to problems in how the body responds to stress and this can result in high blood pressure, stomach ulcers and depression.
Participants and Method of the Study
Participants in the study were 12 women who were divided into groups according to their ages (20s, 30s, 40s). The participants sat in chairs and listened to five minutes of silence, followed by three minutes of music and again followed by five minutes of silence.
The participants had a heart rate sensor strapped to their chests, a blood flow sensor attached to their index fingers and had their body temperatures measured by a thermometer to examine their stress levels before, during and after listening to three different types of music:
Classical – “Pachelbel’s Canon” by Orchestre de chambre Jean-François Paillard
Healing – “Harukanaru Kage” by Yumi Nanatsutani, which is a cover of “They Long to Be) Close to You” by the Carpenters
Japanese Pop – “Exile Pride — Konna Sekai wo Ai suru tame” by Exile
Results of the Study
Blood Flow Volume
The researchers discovered that the volume of blood flow rose in their fingertips when the participants listened to classical music and this also showed a relaxation effect. However, no effect was found at all for listening to the Japanese pop or the healing music.
Heart Rate Variability
Both the high and low-frequency heart rate decreased while listening to music compared to before and after the music played. When listening to classical and healing music the ratios decreased even more significantly. This showed that the sympathetic nervous system was lessened while the parasympathetic nervous system was heightened and this gives evidence of relaxation.
Body Surface Temperature
The body temperature of the participants rose after listening to the healing and classical music, especially after listening to the healing music. This again shows relaxation.
Listening to classical music showed a relaxing effect for the participants in all the age groups for all the three indices that were measured in the study: Heart Rate Variability, Blood Flow Volume and Body Surface Temperature.
Music therapy has also shown remarkable healing benefits for post stroke patients and seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Music helps people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in a non-pharmacological way to prevent cognitive decline, as it acts like reminiscent therapy and brings back memories from the past. It also improves mood and behavior disorders, reduces agitation, irritability, depression, anxiety and delirium in people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
In response to music, post stroke patients were able to learn to sing even before they could learn to speak again. There were also cases where they were able to move paralyzed limbs in response to music.
See our blog post from July 2, 2018 about how music brought a man who had a stroke out of a coma. To learn more about music therapy and neurologic music therapy see our blog post from March 6, 2018.
Music therapy has been shown to be very beneficial in Parkinson’s patients helping them with walking and gait problems. See our blog post from August 1, 2018.
Choose a Rehab that Offers Music Therapy
If you or your loved one are in need of a post stroke rehab the Ditmas Park Rehab and Care Center in Brooklyn, New York has an outstanding reputation for their expertise in post stroke care and they also offer music therapy.
Brooklyn Hospitals near Ditmas Park Rehab and Care Center
NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn (formerly named NYU Lutheran Medical Center)
Music has been shown to be good and healing for everyone so it pays to spend time listening to music.