What’s one thing you couldn’t live without? For me, it’s music. I think it’s one of those little things that you often forget about when thinking about your daily lifestyle. I usually put music as background noise while doing work or I listen to it at the gym or when going for a walk.
There’s such a wide variety of genres too, from pop to rock to indie, and I find it so easy to choose one of those to match the mood I’m in and get me going through the day. Depending on the songs I listen to, music can have various functions and its versatility is what makes it so fun and relatable for various situations.
Since music can be used by everyone for a variety of reasons, I thought of grouping some of its functions into three curious aspects of it that relate to the wellness movement. The first relates to our mental health, the second to our physical health and the third to our nutrition. You’ll notice they’re also three major aspects of our overall wellness which are closely linked to our 360Wellness Tracker and its holistic approach (click the link to read more about it!).
1. Music and your mood
I think a lot of the times that my friends and I listen to music is to ‘match’ our mood, whether we’re cooking or cleaning or want to simply listen to a newly released album from our favorite artists, who know how to make us forget about the world around us even if it’s just for a few minutes.
However, music isn’t just used to lift your mood but some people also use it to reflect the mood they’re in. So, for example, a 2013 study published in the Journal Of Consumer Research demonstrated that individuals would preferably choose types of music that would be congruent with their mood rather than contrast it. They said that some people who might go through various unpleasant personal experiences, like breakups, prefer to choose sad songs as those reflect their mood and can be a way to substitute the sharing of these feelings with a person. It’s almost like they find music as a comforting way to cope with difficult feelings that might be harder to share with another person.
Furthermore, music also helps on the other end to lift people’s moods and make them happier. For example, a 2012 paper from The Journal of Positive Psychology conducted two studies to see if this hypothesis could be verified. In the first study, individuals were asked to make themselves happier by listening to 12 minutes of upbeat music. These reported being happier than the other individuals who were simply asked to listen to music. The second study did the same but over a longer period of time (a couple of weeks). It still registered that those intentionally trying to alter their mood while listening to music were more successful in doing so than those who didn’t try to make themselves happier.
As a result, music can be interpreted as a useful tool used not only for lifting your mood and making you happier, but it can also ‘match’ your feelings and help you get through them thanks to its role of empathetic and understanding presence.
2. Music helps you to work out
I don’t know if you ever felt the same, but sometimes it’s hard to find the motivation to work out. However, this changes in seconds when I listen to an upbeat song that makes me want to move. It’s no wonder why there is always this kind of music at the gym.
This has also been demonstrated by various studies. For example, a review paper published in 2020 by professors from the University of Southern Queensland in Australia and the Brunel University London found that there is a link between the two. They analyzed over 100 studies published over 100 years where they closely read them to prove if there is a connection between listening to music and exercising better.
Their review confirmed that music helps associate exercise with a positive mood and therefore can make physical movement more enjoyable and easier to carry out than without it. Furthermore, it also confirmed that music has an “ergogenic effect” which helps you exercise to the beat of the song played by synchronizing your movement to the rhythm.
3. Music helps you choose a healthier lifestyle
When looking through the benefits of music and the studies associated with them, I also came across this unexpected effect that I never heard of before. Apparently, music can also help you be healthier when it comes to food.
For example, a study from Cornell University found that if you eat in an environment with soft light and slower-beat music can contribute to making you eat fewer calories. The study compared how people eat at fast food locations and at restaurants with dim lights and softer music. The latter group ate 175 fewer calories than the former one. The study suggests that people in a more laid-back environment can focus more on the food and be more satisfied and therefore it discourages over consumption, which is traditionally associated with fast-food chains.
Furthermore, another study published in 2016 in the journal Psychology of Music, also found that music can impact how much time we spend eating a meal. The study over 100 individuals from both genders, female and male, who were young adults aged between 18 and 30 years old. The experiment found that those who listened to English music spent more time eating their meal compared to those who listened to German songs.
A professor from the Univerisity of South Florida also found that the loudness of the music impacted food choices. Dr Biswas conducted a study with people eating at a cafe in Stockholm, Sweden, and compared how two groups of individuals ate with low and high volume of music. The study found that those in an environment with louder music ate more unhealthy items than those in a quieter ambient.