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Science Finds Listening to Live Music Can Be Just as Effective as Medicine

Science Finds Listening to Live Music Can Be Just as Effective as Medicine

The number of learned and creative people who extol the power of music is many. Everyone from Friedrich Nietzsche to Bob Marley has a pearl of wisdom to offer about the beauty and power of a great tune.

But it is not just patrons of the arts who believe this. A plethora of recent studies have demonstrated what everyone from Albert Einstein to Taylor Swift knows to be true: Music is excellent therapy.

A study released in the Music Therapy journal published by Oxford University in 1983 certainly confirmed this hypothesis.

The study included 50 patients who each suffered from cancer. The ages of the patients ranged between 17 and 69. During the study, some patients were given music to listen to through a listening device. Others were allowed to listen to live music.

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After the 25 minutes of allotted music, the patients took a questionnaire that profiled the state of their mood. This was compared with the profile taken before the patients listened to the music.

The patients who had listened to live music reported that they felt better physically and that their mood had improved. The results also suggested that therapists can use live music to help relieve the tension associated with serious illness. The patients also reported having more vigor than those who listened to recorded music.

Researchers stated that “The human element inherent in live music is believed to be important.”

Music is not just excellent therapy for cancer patients. Parkinson’s patients also saw improvements in their disease when they listened to music. Some patients have shown real improvements when they listened to music that had a steady beat. The improvements were both emotional and physical. According to recent research, some patients see improvements in walking and other physical activity when listening to music.

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Come again?

That’s right, there are people working to make the melodic dream of music therapy a reality.

The name of the group is The Sync Project. The Sync Project will pair a user’s music service, like Spotify, with a wearable body monitor, like Fitbit.

The site then tracks the changes in the user’s heat beat and other data. The data is compared with the user’s playlist. This should demonstrate how the music they listen to during concert tours physically interacts with their body. The group collects all of the data from users and then passes it on to scientists who employ it in their own research.

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The biggest roadblock for music therapy research is that the issue is very subjective. Just as how one person could love rap music but hate country and another person could love country and hate rap, music tastes and its effects are hard to pin down.

Ketki Karanam, the head of science innovation at The Sync Project, put it this way: “The evaluations of what music does in the body were based on subjective responses and lacked the objective real-time measurements of physiology.”

The platform is still small. It launched at South by Southwest in Austin earlier this year and is still in the testing phase. However, it hopes to roll out its program to the public at some point.

Meanwhile, current methods rely on established research to pinpoint the things that many people already experience when they listen to music. One researcher wrote that “music can evoke activity changes in the core brain regions that underlie emotion.”

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It may come as a shock that the lyrics to Pharrell’s hit song have scientific foundations. However, if you are one of those people who feels compelled to dance whenever it comes on the radio, this research may not be a surprise after all.

Featured photo credit: MercyMe via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 20, 2018

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

A new year beautifully symbolizes a new chapter opening in the book that is your life. But while so many people like you aspire to achieve ambitious goals, only 12% of you will ever experience the taste of victory. Sound bad? It is. 156 million people (that’s 156,000,000) will probably give up on their resolution before you can say “confetti.” Keep on reading to learn why New Year’s resolutions fail (and how to succeed).

Note: Since losing weight is the most common New Year’s resolution, I chose to focus on weight loss (but these principles can be applied to just about any goal you think of — make it work for you!).

1. You’re treating a marathon like a sprint.

Slow and steady habit change might not be sexy, but it’s a lot more effective than the “I want it ALL and I want it NOW!” mentality. Small changes stick better because they aren’t intimidating (if you do it right, you’ll barely even notice them!).

If you have a lot of bad habits today, the last thing you need to do is remodel your entire life overnight. Want to lose weight? Stop it with the crash diets and excessive exercise plans. Instead of following a super restrictive plan that bans anything fun, add one positive habit per week. For example, you could start with something easy like drinking more water during your first week. The following week, you could move on to eating 3 fruits and veggies every day. And the next week, you could aim to eat a fistful of protein at every meal.

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2. You put the cart before the horse.

“Supplementing” a crappy diet is stupid, so don’t even think about it. Focus on the actions that produce the overwhelming amount of results. If it’s not important, don’t worry about it.

3. You don’t believe in yourself.

A failure to act can cripple you before you leave the starting line. If you’ve tried (and failed) to set a New Year’s resolution (or several) in the past, I know it might be hard to believe in yourself. Doubt is a nagging voice in your head that will resist personal growth with every ounce of its being. The only way to defeat doubt is to believe in yourself. Who cares if you’ve failed a time or two? This year, you can try again (but better this time).

4. Too much thinking, not enough doing.

The best self-help book in the world can’t save you if you fail to take action. Yes, seek inspiration and knowledge, but only as much as you can realistically apply to your life. If you can put just one thing you learn from every book or article you read into practice, you’ll be on the fast track to success.

5. You’re in too much of a hurry.

If it was quick-and-easy, everybody would do it, so it’s in your best interest to exercise your patience muscles.

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6. You don’t enjoy the process.

Is it any wonder people struggle with their weight when they see eating as a chore and exercise as a dreadful bore? The best fitness plan is one that causes the least interruption to your daily life. The goal isn’t to add stress to your life, but rather to remove it.

The best of us couldn’t bring ourselves to do something we hate consistently, so make getting in shape fun, however you’ve gotta do it. That could be participating in a sport you love, exercising with a good friend or two, joining a group exercise class so you can meet new people, or giving yourself one “free day” per week where you forget about your training plan and exercise in any way you please.

7. You’re trying too hard.

Unless you want to experience some nasty cravings, don’t deprive your body of pleasure. The more you tell yourself you can’t have a food, the more you’re going to want it. As long as you’re making positive choices 80-90% of the time, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence.

8. You don’t track your progress.

Keeping a written record of your training progress will help you sustain an “I CAN do this” attitude. All you need is a notebook and a pen. For every workout, record what exercises you do, the number of repetitions performed, and how much weight you used if applicable. Your goal? Do better next time. Improving your best performance on a regular basis offers positive feedback that will encourage you to keep going.

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9. You have no social support.

It can be hard to stay motivated when you feel alone. The good news? You’re not alone: far from it. Post a status on Facebook asking your friends if anybody would like to be your gym or accountability buddy. If you know a co-worker who shares your goal, try to coordinate your lunch time and go out together so you’ll be more likely to make positive decisions. Join a support group of like-minded folks on Facebook, LinkedIn, or elsewhere on the internet. Strength in numbers is powerful, so use it to your advantage.

10. You know your what but not your why.

The biggest reason why most New Year’s resolutions fail: you know what you want but you not why you want it.

Yes: you want to get fit, lose weight, or be healthy… but why is your goal important to you? For example:

Do you want to be fit so you can be a positive example that your children can admire and look up to?

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Do you want to lose fat so you’ll feel more confident and sexy in your body than ever before?

Do you want to be healthy so you’ll have increased clarity, energy, and focus that would carry over into every single aspect of your life?

Whether you’re getting in shape because you want to live longer, be a good example, boost your energy, feel confident, have an excuse to buy hot new clothes, or increase your likelihood of getting laid (hey, I’m not here to judge) is up to you. Forget about any preconceived notions and be true to yourself.

  • The more specific you can make your goal,
  • The more vivid it will be in your imagination,
  • The more encouraged you’ll be,
  • The more likely it is you will succeed (because yes, you CAN do this!).

I hope this guide to why New Year’s resolutions fail helps you achieve your goals this year. If you found this helpful, please pass it along to some friends so they can be successful just like you. What do you hope to accomplish next year?

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