Most people love listening to music while they work or on their commute, but new research tells us that going to concerts on a regular basis can increase your life expectancy by nearly a decade.
The study, conducted by O2 and Patrick Fagan, an expert in behavioral science at Goldsmiths University of London, found that people who attended a concert once every two weeks had an increased life expectancy of nine more years than the rest of us. That’s a 21 percent increase in wellbeing from spending 20 minutes at a concert, as opposed to a ten percent increase for practicing yoga and a seven percent increase for regularly walking your dog. Wow!
Concert attendance boosts well-being and life expectancy
According to the study, people who attended a music gig every two weeks reported increased happiness, contentment, productivity and self-esteem than other subjects. And according to previous research, similar measures of well-being are significantly linked to living a longer, healthier life.
“Our research showcases the profound impact gigs have on feelings of health, happiness and well-being — with fortnightly or regular attendance being the key,” said Patrick Fagan. “Combining all of our findings with O2’s research, we arrive at a prescription of a gig a fortnight which could pave the way for almost a decade more years of life.”
That’s good news for music lovers everywhere, but attending concerts isn’t the only way to reap the health benefits of music.
Other ways music improves your life
While this study suggests getting to concerts once every couple of weeks will improve the length of your life, many studies support the use of music in improving the quality of life in diverse populations.
1. Music reduces stress levels
A review of more than 400 studies found that music not only reduces stress, but it also improves your immune system. In some cases, music is more effective than prescription medication at reducing anxiety before a patient goes into surgery.
When we listen to music, the body produces immunoglobulin A, which plays a significant role in our immunity via the mucous system. More cells that attack harmful bacteria and germs are also present in the body, while at the same time, music reduces levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.
2. Music improves creativity
Listening to “happy” music can boost your creativity. In a 2017 study from The Netherlands, researchers found that positive music, such as “Spring” from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, helped people score higher on creative thinking tests. Those who listened to “calm” or “sad” music did not show a large difference between creative thinking and a convergent thinking test, which asked subjects to arrive at a single answer without thinking outside the box.
3. Music improves sleep
Have trouble falling asleep? Try listening to relaxing classical music. A 2008 study from Hungary found that music can help reduce the sympathetic nervous system’s activity, thereby reducing anxiety levels, heart rate and blood pressure. Classical music was more effective at helping reduce restlessness and insomnia in subjects than listening to an audiobook or going to sleep without listening to anything at all. So, if a quiet room or audiobook isn’t cutting it, try some calm, classical music instead.
4. Music reduces pain
Fibromyalgia patients live with chronic pain in their joints and muscles. A study from Denmark found that patients who listen to their favorite music experience less pain over time. The key is to pick “self-chosen, relaxing and pleasant music,” as lead author Peter Vuust remarked.
The research also found that the music helps patients safely lower their medication levels under the care of a physician. Imagine what music can do for those of us without chronic pain.
5. Music helps reduce depression
If you live with depression, adding soft music to your current treatment plan. A 2004 study published in the Archives of Psychiatric Nursing found that psychiatric inpatients who listened to soft music scored significantly better on tests that measured their depressive states than patients who did not listen to music. Depression also improved weekly for these patients, which suggests that music has “a cumulative dose effect.”
How to get more music in your life
Concerts come in all forms. You certainly don’t have to go to a large arena concert to get your concert time in your schedule.
- If you live close to a college or university, head to a local concert venue to discover new and emerging bands in small settings.
- Crank the music up in your car if you can’t get to a concert. Pick inspiring tunes that make you feel good.
- At the gym, tap over to a playlist that’s full of motivating tracks that can increase the efficiency of your workout.
- Attend local high school orchestra, band and choir concerts. If there’s an arts magnet school in your city, the performances can be on par with professional events.
- Eat out at restaurants where live music is being performed. Especially once the weather warms up, finding a patio with a small band playing live tunes can be fairly easy.
- Share streaming playlists with friends or create a private group on social media designed to share music with members.
Adding more music — and more concerts — to your life can have a profound impact on your mental and physical health. What’s your favorite way to enjoy music on a regular basis? Let us know in the comments.