The 5  Shocking Health Benefits of Listening to Music 

June 11, 2021

Have you ever stopped to think about the benefits of listening to music?

Well, if you’ve ever played soft music in the background to destress or loud, fast music to pump yourself up for a big presentation or a workout, you're not alone. In fact, many people use music to influence their moods.

And, interestingly, science is now showing there's a reason why we do this: It turns out that there are many health benefits of listening to music, including reducing anxiety, relieving stress, and even increasing exercise endurance.

Want to know more about how it works? Keep reading to discover what’s happening in your body when you’re listening to music and all the positive effects of music on your health.


How Music Impacts Your Health

Music is all around you, whether you’re in the car listening to the radio or grabbing ingredients for dinner at your local grocery store while it’s playing in the background.

You probably don’t think much of it because you likely listen to music each and every day. But what you may not realize is that your body is very aware of the music, and a series of physiological events begin the moment your ears encounter a tune.

According to a 2013 study, listening to music affects your autonomic nervous system along with your endocrine system and your psychological stress response. [1]

That matters because your autonomic nervous system is responsible for regulating everyday bodily functions such as your respiratory rate, heart rate, digestion, blood flow, and more. (Think about autonomic as “automatic” in that it regulates the bodily processes that happen automatically, or without you having to think about it.)

Here’s why: Your autonomic nervous system is made up of your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

As you may recall, your sympathetic nervous system is the system that prepares your body for the fight-or-flight mode. Meanwhile, your parasympathetic nervous system is the system that helps your body to slow down, relax, and remain in a calm and steady state.

Given what research has revealed about how music impacts your body, it makes sense why we often turn to music to help calm ourselves or generate excitement. It also makes sense why simply hearing a song can alter our moods.

But since listening to music has been shown to impact the very system responsible for our involuntary but essential bodily functions, it stands to reason that there are even more benefits of listening to music beyond mood alteration.

Let’s take a look at some of the top health benefits of listening to music.

5 Health Benefits of Listening to Music

Here are some of my favorite benefits of listening to music, all of which can improve your daily life.

1. Improves memory

One of the incredible benefits of listening to music is its ability to improve your memory. And since chronic stress, a common concern in our modern times, is linked to forgetfulness, you’ll want to pay special attention to this one.

In a 2014 study, researchers assessed the impact of listening to music versus white noise or no background noise in 65 adults.

They discovered that those who listened to classical music experienced significantly improved episodic memory (the recollection of specific events or experiences) and semantic memory (overall ability to understand concepts) and over those who listed to no background noise.

Additionally, the researchers found that the music was more beneficial to memory than white noise. [2]

These findings explain why we can hear a certain song and be taken back to a specific memory. It also sheds some light on why some people prefer to study with music in the background, as music not only aids in recall but also supports the ability to understand new concepts.

So, the next time you’re trying to learn something new or simply want to boost your memory, consider playing some soft music in the background.

2. Fights stress and fatigue

Another one of the top health benefits of listening to music is that it fights stress and fatigue.

According to a 2012 study, listening to music reduced feelings of fatigue. It even had a positive impact on the participants’ mood and creativity. [3]

Meanwhile, another study found that listening to music can increase your relaxation levels by six percent. [4]

Additionally, listening to music was shown to reduce stress levels by up to 61 percent, proving it to be more effective than taking a walk or drinking tea. [5]

So, if you’re looking for an easy way to relieve stress, try turning on some relaxing background. You may be surprised by how much relief you feel afterwards.

3. Supports heart health

One of the most surprising benefits of listening to music is that it can actually support heart health.

According to a 2021 article, listening to music stabilizes your heart rate and blood pressure.

This is important because it not only eases stress and anxiety, but relieves pain, too. [6]

Additionally, a 2013 study found that listening to music improves your heart rate variability by quickly returning it to baseline (your resting heart rate) after physical strain. [7]

So, next time you notice that your blood pressure or heart rate is a bit higher than it should be, consider listening to soft, relaxing music to help bring it down.

4. Increases exercise endurance

As we’ve discussed, there are many benefits of listening to music. One of the more well-known is that it can help boost your exercise performance.

According to a 2017 study, listening to fast and upbeat music positively increases your endurance. [8]

Those who exercised while listening to music worked out for 65 percent longer than those who exercised without music. The researchers concluded that those who listened to music increased their duration of exercise, and hence endurance.

In addition to increasing your exercise endurance, listening to music also boosts your motivation during challenging exercises. This comes in handy when doing strenuous workouts, whether you’re at home or at the gym. [9]

So, the next time you feel unmotivated to workout, think about playing some motivational music in the background to get you pumped up and raring to go.

5. Improves depression and anxiety symptoms

As we now know, that there are many benefits of listening to music. But did you know that it has also been shown to lower depression and anxiety levels by 65 percent? [10]

According to a 2017 study, one of the positive effects of music is that it helps relieve symptoms of depression. Specifically, the researchers recommended listening to calming or classical music for the greatest benefits. [10]

The same study also showed that listening to classical or meditative music significantly improved anxiety.


Benefits of listening to music - Dr. Pingel

Key Takeaways

  • Science is showing that there are many health benefits of listening to music, largely thanks to its impact on your autonomic nervous system, endocrine system, and psychological stress response.
  • Some of the top benefits of listening to music include: improving memory, fighting stress and fatigue, supports heart health, increases exercise endurance, and improves depression and anxiety symptoms.
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