Music can have a variety of effects on an individual from altering their mood to triggering a memory. But did you know that music can also play a role in protecting the brain and helping it function?
In 2020, the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH) gathered a panel of experts to examine the latest research on how music affects and influences brain health. There was strong agreement among the experts that music can play a vital role in promoting mental well-being, increasing social connections, and stimulating cognitive skills—all of which can slow the progression of or even reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
One of the GCBH panel’s main recommendations is to actively engage in singing and/or dancing as these activities provide both physical exercise as well as being a highly effective stress reducer. Although studies show that the strongest response to the brain (and dopamine release) occurs when the music is familiar and enjoyed, listening to new music can also stimulate the brain.
For patients with mild-cognitive impairment or dementia, even its later stages, music therapy has been found to improve mood and quality of life and reduce anxiety and depression as well as agitation. There is also data to suggest that patients with Parkinson’s disease may experience a better ability to talk and move when listening to music. It has even been demonstrated that music, especially singing, can help during recovery from a stroke.
In addition to singing in the shower or in the car, look for more ways to work music into your life. Some suggestions include using apps to suggest new bands or songs that you may enjoy, creating a playlist of songs that are motivating, joining a choir, learning an instrument, and taking dance classes.
Of course, if you find that musculoskeletal pain interferes with your ability to comfortably carry out these musical activities, contact your doctor of chiropractic. The sooner you seek care, the faster you may resume your normal activities.