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The Surprising Health Benefits of Playing Music

Jim Keenan

June 8, 2017

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The Surprising Health Benefits of Playing Music

Did you play an instrument as a child but put it aside as you grew older, went to college, or started a career? Or maybe you never played an instrument at all but always wished that you would have taken piano lessons or picked up a guitar. The good news is that it is not too late to begin music lessons as an adult! 

Learning (or relearning) how to make music as an adult is fun. It challenges you and helps you grow. But did you know that playing music as an adult also has surprising health benefits? 

That's right - learning the instrument you've been longing to play can help improve your health just like eating healthy and staying physically active. 

Stress Reduction 

You've likely heard that relaxation is important to your health. The stress of living in a state of constant 'on' impacts nearly everyone. According to the Mayo Clinic, "Stress that's left unchecked can contribute to many health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes."

It's essential to make time for relaxation to reduce stress. Playing and learning to make music is a time-tested method of relaxation. This study by the Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute on stress and long-term cardiovascular health concluded that, "Relaxation through active engagement in recreational music making may be more effective than quiet reading at altering gene expression and thus more clinically useful for stress amelioration."

Brain Health

As people age, they experience concern about continuing to maintain the health of their brains. Declines in memory and cognitive functioning are a common concern. Active music making and participation has shown to help maintain and even improve cognition. 

National Geographic reported that taking music lessons as a child has long-term benefits for the brain in the areas of memory and taking in and processing new information. Importantly, these benefits persisted even years after the subjects stopped playing. 

But what if you didn't take music lessons as a child? Is it too late for you to realize the brain health benefits of playing music? The good news is, no, it's not too late. The article noted that adults taking up music later in life still received many benefits. In fact, within six months of starting piano lessons, adults saw increased gains in memory, verbal fluency and other cognitive functions.

Music Lessons for Adults

Community and Social Benefits

While learning an instrument (particularly as an adult) can seem like a solitary pursuit, it is actually a great way to feel a sense of community. Making music connects you in a way with all other musicians and with listeners. 

As you learn to play music, you may decide that you are playing only for yourself and that personal fulfillment is all you desire from your musical pursuit. You may also find that the more you learn and play that you want to share your music with others. Playing with other adults that are also new to music is fun and motivational. 

The Time is Now!

It’s never too late to begin. If you’ve always dreamed of playing an instrument or learning to sing, it’s time to put ALL of the excuses aside and just start right where you are right now, today!

Unfortunately, you’ll still have to keep up your healthy diet and workout plan. But when you start playing music, you’ll realize even better health through stress reduction, improved cognitive function, and an improved outlook when you’re a part of a fun, like-minded community.

You’ll be glad you did!

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