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Music is powerful. It can affect mood in profound ways. You might be sulking one moment then instantly perk up when your favorite tune comes on. On the other hand, you might find yourself feeling sad as the first chords of an Adele song hit your ears. Music can make you happy and energized, or calm and reflective.

But guess what?

There’s even evidence that music can greatly impact your health.

But how does music improve your appearance? Well, by improving your overall health, music also has a significant effect on how you look. Stress relief, bolstering the immune system and improving exercise output are all ways in which music affects appearance and augments wellbeing. Whether it’s an upbeat song or the soothing tones of a classical concert, music has the ability to improve not only health and appearance, but even quality of life.

1. Relieves Stress & Anxiety

Music’s ability to relieve stress is pretty well known. In one study, participants listening to Indian classical music while undergoing a medical procedure reported significantly reduced levels of anxiety.1 Another study found that blood pressure and heart rate were reduced in participants faced with an anxiety-increasing task when they listened to a relaxing classical piece.2 In both instances, stress decreased from listening to music.

It’s important to seek ways in which to control our stress levels, because if ignored, stress can lead to a myriad of health problems, including headaches and pain, insomnia, depression and irritability. It also affects behavior, contributing to problems with anger and substance abuse.

As it relates to appearance, some research has linked stress to weight gain and skin problems like acne and dryness.

The stress hormone cortisol has been found to influence metabolism and the accumulation of body fat. Research by the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing found that there were higher levels of cortisol found in the hair of participants with higher BMIs.5 Cortisol can also lead to skin dryness by affecting the skin’s ability to retain moisture. On top of that, cortisol increases blood sugar, which has a damaging effect on collagen and elastin, leading to more fine lines and wrinkles on the face.6 Furthermore, stress can increase the inflammation that leads to acne.7

Music can help combat these problems, even though it may seem unlikely. However, as music decreases your stress levels, it also makes it less likely you will deal with issues like weight gain or obesity, or worry about skin dryness, acne and wrinkles. Less stress, therefore, means a slimmer waistline and brighter, clearer and younger-looking skin.

2. Improves Your Immune System

A strong immune system keeps you healthy, and looking healthy has often been a sign of an attractive appearance. Though it may be hard to believe, simply listening to music has been shown to give your immune system quite the boost. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital found that listening to music — specifically Mozart’s piano concertos — not only helped decrease stress levels in critically ill patients, but also decreased levels of interleukin-6, a protein that has been associated with higher mortality rates, diabetes and heart problems.8

Further research has found that music listeners had a higher number of “natural killer cells,” a type of lymphocyte, which attack bacteria, viruses, and even cancer cells.9 In essence, music actually helps you fight off disease.

When a person looks healthy, he or she traditionally has bright eyes, clear skin, a stable weight and thick hair and strong nails. All of these factors together contribute to looking good.

3. Helps You Exercise More

The improvements to your appearance are obvious in this case, aren’t they? The more you exercise, the better you tend to look. Not only does exercise give you a nice rosy flush in the cheeks, it also helps you shed excess pounds, giving you a healthier physique.

Researchers in the UK found that listening to motivational and non-motivational music increased the amount of time participants exercised.10 Moreover, participants who listened to motivational music also confessed they felt better overall after their workouts.

There are added beauty benefits to music helping you exercise more. In addition to helping get rid of unwanted weight, exercise also improves one’s complexion.

Working out regularly helps boost circulation, which brings increased blood flow and oxygen to the skin.

A study found that people over 40 who exercised regularly had the skin elasticity of people in their 20s and 30s.11 Exercise has also been known to slow cell aging by lengthening telomeres.12 Telomeres are the ends of chromosomes that tend to shorten as we age.13 The shorter they get, the more negative the impact on our health. Yet by lengthening telomeres, exercise can potentially curb aging all over your body, including in your skin, making you look younger.

Other Benefits of Music

But the benefits of music don’t stop there. It can help boost your health in several other ways as well. Here are just a few.

  • Improves post-surgery recovery

According to a study involving nearly 7,000 patients, listening to music can substantially reduce anxiety, pain and also decrease the need for pain medicine in people undergoing surgery. Researchers found that patients who listened to music either before, during or after their procedures were significantly less anxious and reported less pain. The study showed that while music was effective at any time, patients who listened after surgery tended to enjoy better outcomes.14

  • Improves sleep quality

There is also evidence that music can have a positive impact on sleep, which makes sense considering it helps decrease anxiety, reduce blood pressure and lowers nervous system activity. One study showed that classical music helped to not only improve insomnia, but also symptoms associated with mental issues.15

  • Pain reduction

Researchers conducted a review of more than 50 studies exploring whether music could have an effect on people suffering from pain. The results showed that music could play a slight role in helping to reduce the intensity of pain as well as reduce the amount of pain medication needed.16

Strike The Right Note

If you don’t already listen to music regularly, it may be time to get in the habit. Music that improves your mood, in general, has an upbeat tempo, say like show tunes, reggae, or old school rock n’ roll. Or, it’s associated with good memories from your past, say like your high school prom or wedding. If you need to calm down, opt for soothing music, such as classical or opera. But, of course, whatever type of music that brings you joy and makes you feel good is the best choice.

Even if you only commit to listening to music for 10 minutes a day, it can have a major effect on your health and, therefore, your life. Make it a part of your daily routine while walking your dog, in the car or doing chores. It’ll be one of the best things you can do for yourself—and with very little investment!

Article updated: March 28, 2018


Sources
1 Kotwal M, Rinchhen C, Ringe V. Stress Reduction Through Listening to Indian Classical Music During Gastroscopy. Diagnostic and Therapeutic Endoscopy. 1998;4(4):191-197. doi:10.1155/dte.4.191.
2 Knight W, Rickard N. Relaxing music prevents stress-induced increases in subjective anxiety, systolic blood pressure, and heart rate in healthy males and females. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2001.  Accessed May 27, 2017.
5 LaMotte S. Long-term stress might make you fat, study says. CNN. 2017.  Accessed May 27, 2017.
6 Drake L. 5 Signs Your Skin Is Seriously Stressed Out. Prevention. 2011. Accessed May 27, 2017.
7 Drake L. 5 Signs Your Skin Is Seriously Stressed Out. Prevention. 2011. Accessed May 27, 2017.
8 Available at: www.ccmpitt.com/ebm/sedation_neuromuscular/mozart%20growth%20hormone%20il-6.pdf. Accessed May 27, 2017.
9 Chanda M, Levitin D. The neurochemistry of music. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 2013;17(4):179-193. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2013.02.007.
10 Karageorghis CI e. Psychophysical and ergogenic effects of synchronous music during treadmill walking. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2009. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19325186. Accessed May 27, 2017.
11 Why the fountain of youth might taste very salty | McMaster Daily News. Dailynewsmcmasterca. 2014. Available at: http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/article/why-the-fountain-of-youth-might-taste-very-salty/. Accessed May 27, 2017.
12 Fernandez E. Lifestyle Changes May Lengthen Telomeres, A Measure of Cell Aging. UC San Fran. 2013.  Accessed May 27, 2017.
13 Telomeres and Aging – Telomere Shortening – T.A. Sciences®. TA Sciences®. Accessed May 27, 2017.
14 thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(15)60169-6/abstract.Retrieved March 28, 2018.
15 Harmat, L., Takács, J., & Bódizs, R. (2008, May). Music improves sleep quality in students. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
16 Cepeda, M. S., Carr, D. B., Lau, J., & Alvarez, H. (2006, April 19). Music for pain relief. Retrieved March 28, 2018.

About the Author

Dr. John Layke

Dr. John Layke grew up in Milwaukee, WI, where he knew from a young age that he wanted to practice medicine. After completing his undergraduate degree at Marquette University, Dr. Layke went on to attend medical school at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and trained in general surgery at the University of Illinois Metropolitan Group Hospitals in Chicago.