Why listening to music is the key to good health
It's the weekend and at some point you'll probably relax to your favourite music, watch a film with a catchy title track - or hit the dance floor.
There's no doubt that listening to your favourite music can instantly put you in a good mood. But scientists are now discovering that music can do more for you than just lift your spirits.
Research is showing it has a variety of health benefits.
Fresh research from Austria has found that listening to music can help patients with chronic back pain.
And a recent survey by Mind - the mental health charity - found that after counselling, patients found group therapy such as art and music therapy, the most useful.
Here, we present six proven ways that music can help you and your family's health
1. CHRONIC BACK PAIN
How it helps: Music works on the autonomic nervous system - the part of the nervous system responsible for controlling our blood pressure, heartbeat and brain function - and also the limbic system - the part of the brain that controls feelings and emotions. According to one piece of research, both these systems react sensitively to music.
When slow rhythms are played, our blood pressure and heartbeat slow down which helps us breathe more slowly, thus reducing muscle tension in our neck, shoulders, stomach and back. And experts say that apart from physical tension, music also reduces psychological tension in our mind.
In other words when we feel pain, we become frightened, frustrated and angry which makes us tense up hundreds of muscles in our back. Listening to music on a regular basis helps our bodies relax physically and mentally, thus helping to relieve - and prevent - back pain.
A new study from Austria's General Hospital of Salzburg due to be published in The Vienna Medical Weekly Journal could hold the key to back pain. In the study, 65 patients aged between 21 and 68 with chronic back pain after back surgery were divided into two groups.
One group received standard medical care and physiotherapy. The other group also listened to music and received visualisation classes for 25 minutes every day for three weeks. Results found that the group who listened to music and used imagery experienced better pain relief than the group who did not.
Clinical psychologist Franz Wendtner who led the study says: 'Music is an important part of our physical and emotional wellbeing - ever since we were babies in our mother's womb listening to her heartbeat and breathing rhythms.
'Listening to music for about 25 minutes everyday for at least ten days can help prevent back pain and also make you sleep better.'