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8 Reasons You Should Listen More To Classical Music

8 Reasons You Should Listen More To Classical Music

Is it true that listening to classical music is actually good for you? Looking at some of the scientific studies conducted recently, classical music does have benefits. Findings show that there are many benefits for our mental and physical health. It can stimulate the brain, improve sleep, reduce stress and also strengthen the immune system. Here are 8 reasons why you should be listening to more classical music much more often than you probably do now.

1. It makes your brain work better

At Northumbria University (UK), a research team performed some experiments on students’ brain functioning when doing tests while they listened to Vivaldi’s Spring concerto. They were answering faster and better than when they listened to the sadder Autumn concerto. The conclusion was that brain activity is improved when listening to pleasant and arousing stimuli. If you want to refresh your memory on the uplifting Vivaldi Spring concerto, you can listen to it here.

2. It helps people with dementia

If a loved one suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s, it is well worth noting the studies showing how music can help them to regain memories and enormously improve their quality of life. Watch the video here of a man who was brought back to life by listening to music he loved in the past. If your loved one was particularly fond of any music, classical or non, they can be enormously helped by listening to the same music. The explanation is that because music affects many parts of the brain, it can reawaken those parts of the brain not affected by dementia. This is especially true when the music is linked to a particular event or memory. It is fascinating to read the book by the late neurologist Oliver Sacks called Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain which explains the phenomenon and recounts many moving stories.

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“People with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias can respond to music when nothing else reaches them. Alzheimer’s can totally destroy the ability to remember family members or events from one’s own life—but musical memory somehow survives the ravages of disease, and even in people with advanced dementia, music can often reawaken personal memories and associations that are otherwise lost.”- Oliver Sacks

3. It can help you sleep better

There are many studies on the beneficial effects of classical music on sleep quality. One study shows that a group of students who listened to relaxing classical music were getting much better sleep quality than when they were exposed to an audio book, for example. Researchers are convinced that music is better than verbal stimuli for the purposes of relaxing body and mind before sleep.

Here is a list of some famous classical music pieces which will help you get off to sleep.

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  • Johann Sebastian Bach – Air on the G String
  • Ludwig van Beethoven – Sonata No. 14 “Moonlight” – First movement
  • Frederic Chopin – Berceuse in D flat opus 57
  • Claude Debussy – Claire de Lune
  • Gustav Mahler – Symphony No. 5 – Adagietto
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Piano Concerto in C major K 467 – Second movement
  • Bela Bartok – Piano Concerto No. 3 – Second movement

4. It can calm you down when driving

Are you prone to road rage at times? The German government is worried about the high number of road accidents on the country’s motorways (2.4 million annually). Many of these accidents are caused by aggressive driving and road rage. To counteract this, the German Ministry of Transport has released a CD for drivers which features Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.21. played by the Minister himself! He hopes that the soothing effects of music will calm drivers down. (Fun fact: There is no word in German for road rage). Let us hope they will not need it now.

5. It can help reduce pain

Various studies show that listening to music can reduce post operative and chronic pain especially after surgery. It will never replace painkillers of course but will be a great help in reducing depression, disability and pain. The reason seems to be that it can help to tune out the pain by increasing the brain’s reward center, thereby alleviating the sensation of pain.

“One good thing about music, is when it hits you, you feel no pain.”- Bob Marley

6. It can help you express your emotions.

“If music be the food of love, play on, Give me excess of it.” – William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

Music can express what we may never be capable of verbally and thank goodness for that. We may have to struggle with anger, love, depression and many other emotions and feelings. When we connect with music, we can begin to cope. It helps us to be more honest with ourselves. Research at The Southern Methodist University shows that when listening to classical music, undergraduate students were more communicative and open about their emotions. Everyone has their favorite playlist to help them when they feel romantic, lazy or exhausted. Listening to classical music helps you express your emotions in unique ways.

“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” – Sigmund Freud

7. It can help blood pressure

It is fascinating to discover that cardiologists have found a connection between Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and our blood pressure levels. They found that this piece and many other classical music pieces are in natural sync with our own body’s natural rhythm and that helps to keep blood pressure at optimal levels. Professor Bernardi at the University of Pavia in Italy has done some interesting research on this.

8. It can help people on diets

You now how difficult it is to eat slowly, chew your food properly, and really enjoy it. Playing soft music and dimming lights in dining areas has been found to help people enjoy their food more and eat less! This is the main result of a study carried out at Cornell University. On the other hand, places like fast food joints use brighter lights to encourage fast eating and more profit for the business. You can improve the way you experience food by being more intentional in the way you eat, including playing soft music during meals.

We look forward to hearing about the ways you have benefited from listening to classic music. Post your stories in the comments below!

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Featured photo credit: Sycamore High School March Orchestra Concert 2014/ Meredith Bell via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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