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Scientists Find 15 Amazing Benefits Of Listening To Music

Scientists Find 15 Amazing Benefits Of Listening To Music

If you love listening to music, you’re in good company. Charles Darwin once remarked, “If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week.” Albert Einstein declared, “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician.” Jimi Hendrix called music his “religion.”

I’ve always been in awe of people who can sing and play guitar. As a young girl, I secretly listened to singer-songwriter music in my bedroom into the wee hours. As a rebellious teenager, I cranked rock ‘n’ roll in the house whenever I had to do chores. I always felt great afterwards – now I know why.

Recent research shows that listening to music improves our mental well-being and boosts our physical health in surprising and astonishing ways. If we take a music lesson or two, that musical training can help raise our IQs and even keep us sharp in old age. Here are 15 amazing scientifically-proven benefits of being hooked on music.

1. Music Makes You Happier

“I don’t sing because I’m happy; I’m happy because I sing.” – William James

Research proves that when you listen to music you like, your brain releases dopamine, a “feel-good” neurotransmitter. Valorie Salimpoor, a neuroscientist at McGill University, injected eight music-lovers with a radioactive substance that binds to dopamine receptors after they listened to their favorite music. A PET scan showed that large amounts of dopamine were released, which biologically caused the participants to feel emotions like happiness, excitement, and joy.[1]

So the next time you need an emotional boost, listen to your favorite tunes for 15 minutes. That’s all it takes to get a natural high!

2. Music Enhances Running Performance

“If people take anything from my music, it should be motivation to know that anything is possible as long as you keep working at it and don’t back down.” – Eminem

Marcelo Bigliassi and his colleagues found that runners who listened to fast or slow motivational music completed the first 800 meters of their run faster than runners who listened to calm music or ran without music.[2] If you want to take your running up a notch, listen to songs that inspire you.

3. Music Lowers Stress and Improves Health

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from.” – Billy Joel

Listening to music you enjoy decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your body, which counteracts the effects of chronic stress.[3] This is an important finding since stress causes 60% of all our illnesses and disease.[4] One study showed that if people actively participated in making music by playing various percussion instruments and singing, their immune system was boosted even more than if they passively listened.[5]

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To stay calm and healthy during a stressful day, turn on the radio. Be sure to sing along and tap your feet to the beat to get the maximum healing benefit.

4. Music Helps You Sleep Better

“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Berthold Auerbach

Over 30% of Americans suffer from insomnia.[6] A study showed that students who listened to relaxing classical music for 45 minutes before turning in slept significantly better than students who listened to an audiobook or did nothing different from their normal routine.[7]

If you’re having trouble sleeping, try listening to a little Bach or Mozart before bedtime to catch some Zs.

5. Music Reduces Depression

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.” – Maya Angelou

More than 350 million people suffer from depression around the world.[8] A whopping 90% of them also experience insomnia.[9] The sleep research above found that symptoms of depression decreased significantly in the group that listened to classical music before bedtime, but not in the other two groups.

Another study by Hans Joachim Trappe in Germany also demonstrated that music can benefit patients with depressive symptoms, depending on the type of music. Meditative sounds and classical music lifted people up, but techno and heavy metal brought people down even more.[10]

The next time you feel low, put on some classical or meditative music to lift your spirits.

6. Music Helps You Eat Less

“There’s a friendly tie of some sort between music and eating.” – Thomas Hardy

Research at Georgia Tech University showed that softening the lighting and music while people ate led them to consume fewer calories and enjoy their meals more. If you’re looking for ways to curb your appetite, try dimming the lights and listening to soft music the next time you sit down for a meal.[11]

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7. Music Elevates Your Mood While Driving

“That’s what I love. Not being interrupted, sitting in the car by myself listening to music in the rain. There are so many great songs yet to sing.”  – Alison Kraus

A study in the Netherlands found that listening to music can positively impact your mood while driving,[12] which can lead to safer behavior than not listening to music. The next time you feel frustrated in traffic, turn up the tunes to improve your state of mind. It won’t hurt your driving performance – it may even help you drive more safely.

8. Music Strengthens Learning and Memory

“Music is the language of memory.” – Jodi Picoult

Researchers discovered that music can help you learn and recall information better, but it depends on how much you like the music and whether or not you’re a musician. Subjects memorized Japanese characters while listening to music that either seemed positive or neutral to them.[13] The results showed that participants who were musicians learned better with neutral music but tested better when pleasurable music was playing. Non-musicians, on the other hand, learned better with positive music but tested better with neutral music.

Memorize these results. You now have a strategy to study more effectively for your next test.

9. Music Relaxes Patients Before/After Surgery

“He who sings scares away his woes.” – Miguel de Cervantes

Researchers found that listening to relaxing music before surgery decreases anxiety.[14] In fact it’s even more effective than being orally administered Midazolam, a medication often used to help pre-op patients feel sleepy that also has gnarly side effects such as coughing and vomiting. Other studies showed that listening to soothing music while resting in bed after open heart surgery increases relaxation.[14]

Globally, 234 million major surgeries are performed each year.[15] If you or someone you know is going into surgery, be sure to bring some soothing tunes to ease anxiety. It may work better, and will certainly have fewer adverse side effects, than the meds they dispense.

10. Music Reduces Pain

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” – Bob Marely

Research at Drexel University in Philadelphia found that music therapy and pre-recorded music reduced pain more than standard treatments in cancer patients. Other research showed that music can decrease pain in intensive care patients and geriatric care patients, but the selection needed to be either classical pieces, meditative music, or songs of the patient’s choosing.

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Bob Marely was right about this one – listen to music you love to take your pain away.

11. Music Helps Alzheimer’s Patients Remember

“The past, which is not recoverable in any other way, is embedded, as if in amber, in the music, and people can regain a sense of identity.” – Oliver Sacks, M.D.

A non-profit organization called Music & Memory helps people with Alzheimer’s Disease and other age-related dementias remember who they are by having them listen to their dearest songs. The awakening is often dramatic. For example, after Henry listens to music from his era, this wheelchair-bound dementia sufferer who can barely speak sings Cab Calloway songs and happily reminisces about his life .

Dr. Laura Mosqueda, Director of Geriatrics at the University of California at the Irvine School of Medicine, explains that because music affects so many areas of the brain, it stimulates pathways that may still be healthy.[16]

One in three seniors die with Alzheimer’s Disease or another dementia,[17] so odds are you know someone who has it. To connect with loved ones who suffer from age-related dementia, try playing some of their best-loved music.

12. Music Improves Recovery in Stroke Patients

“I know why the caged bird sings.” – Maya Angelou

Research at the University of Helsinki showed that stroke patients who listened to music they chose themselves for two hours a day had significantly improved recovery of cognitive function compared to those who listened to audio books or were given no listening material.[18] Most of the music contained lyrics, which suggests that it’s the combination of music and voice that bolstered the patients’ auditory and verbal memory.

Stroke is the number 5 cause of death in the United States.[19] If you know someone who has suffered a stroke, bring their favorite songs as soon as you can. Listening to them can significantly ramp up their recuperation.

13. Music Increases Verbal Intelligence

“Music is to the soul what words are to the mind.” – Modest Mouse

After only one month of music lessons (in rhythm, pitch, melody and voice), a study at York University showed that 90% of children between the ages of 4 and 6 had a significant increase in verbal intelligence.[20] Researcher Sylvain Moreno suggests that the music training had a “transfer effect”[21] which enhanced the children’s ability to understand words and explain their meaning. Other research found that musically trained adult women and musically trained children outperformed those without music training on verbal memory tests.

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No matter whether you’re an adult or a child, if you want to boost your verbal skills, try taking music lessons!

14. Music Raises IQ and Academic Performance

“Music can change the world because it can change people.” – Bono

Research shows that taking music lessons predicts higher academic performance and IQ in young children.[22] In one study, 6-year-olds who took keyboard or singing lessons in small groups for 36 weeks had significantly larger increases in IQ and standardized educational test results than children who took either drama lessons or no lessons. The singing group did the best.

To help your children achieve academic excellence, encourage them to sing or learn to play an instrument.

15. Music Keeps Your Brain Healthy in Old Age

“Music is the true breath of life. We eat so we won’t starve to death. We sing so we can hear ourselves live.” – Yasmina Khadra

A study with healthy older adults found that those with ten or more years of musical experience scored higher on cognitive tests than musicians with one to nine years of musical study.[23] The non-musicians scored the lowest. “Since studying an instrument requires years of practice and learning, it may create alternate connections in the brain that could compensate for cognitive declines as we get older,” says lead researcher Brenda Hanna-Pladdy.

Business magnate Warren Buffet stays sharp at age 84 by playing ukulele. It’s never too late to play an instrument to keep you on top of your game.

Plato had it right when he said, “Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul.” No matter whether you’re young or old, healthy or sick, happy or sad, music can improve the quality of your life in numerous ways. It reduces stress and anxiety, lifts your mood, boosts your health, helps you sleep better, takes away your pain, and even makes you smarter.

New research shows that music “can communicate basic human feelings regardless of the listener’s cultural and ethnic background.” We’ve only just begun to understand all the ways this universal language can profit the world.[24] Rather than cut funds for music and art programs in schools, why not invest in exploring all the secret places that music reaches so that we may continue to reap its amazing benefits?

More About Music

Featured photo credit: Allef Vinicius via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] McGill: Investigations of the links between music, emotion and reward, Valorie Salimpoor
[2] The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: How Does Music Aid 5 km of Running?
[3] Psychology Today: Cortisol: Why the “Stress Hormone” Is Public Enemy No. 1
[4] The American Institute of Stress: Master Your Stress
[5] J Music Ther.: The effects of active and passive participation in musical activity on the immune system as measured by salivary immunoglobulin A (SIgA).
[6] The Better Sleep Guide: The Insomnia Statistics
[7] J Adv Nurs.: Music improves sleep quality in students.
[8] World Health Organization: Depression
[9] Dialogues Clin Neurosci.: Sleep disturbances and depression: risk relationships for subsequent depression and therapeutic implications
[10] Dtsch Med Wochenschr.: [Music and health–what kind of music is helpful for whom? What music not?].
[11] Georgia Tech News Center: Helpful Hints for Healthy Holiday Eating
[12] Ergonomics.: The influence of music on mood and performance while driving.
[13] Front Psychol.: Pleasurable music affects reinforcement learning according to the listener
[14] J Clin Nurs. : Soothing music can increase oxytocin levels during bed rest after open-heart surgery: a randomised control trial.
[15] Wise Geek: How Many Surgeries Are Performed Each Year?
[16] Alzheimers.net: Music Therapy For Dementia: Awakening Memories
[17] Alzheimer’s Association: Facts & Figures
[18] EurekAlert: Listening to music improves stroke patients’ recovery
[19] Heart.org: Heart and Stroke Statistics
[20] APS: Short-Term Music Training Enhances Verbal Intelligence and Executive Function
[21] Pacific Standard: Music Training Enhances Children’s Verbal Intelligence
[22] PLOS: Practicing a Musical Instrument in Childhood is Associated with Enhanced Verbal Ability and Nonverbal Reasoning
[23] US News: Music Training May Help Keep Aging Brain Healthy
[24] The Mind Unleashed: This is How Music Is Indeed a Universal Language

More by this author

Dr. Michelle Millis Chappel

Michelle is a psychology-professor-turned-rock-star who has helped thousands of people create successful meaningful lives by using their superpowers.

10 Principles for Success to Live Your Dream Life 17 Ways for Building Resilience and Staying Tough How to Become Goal Oriented and Achieve More in Life Scientists Find 15 Amazing Benefits Of Listening To Music Feeling Like It Might Be Too Late To Pursue Your Dreams? Think Again

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Last Updated on October 5, 2020

13 Best Board Games For Adults To Play During Quarantine

13 Best Board Games For Adults To Play During Quarantine

This pandemic has forced many of us to be in our own homes for an indeterminate amount of time. And needless to say, many of us have been feeling the effects of self-isolation and quarantine for a while.

That said, one thing that can take us from that edge is board games. Board games have evolved a lot since we were little and have given rise to a wide variety of classics that have been released in the past decade or two. For this list, we are looking at some of the best board games for adults that avoid some of the classics and introduce new and exciting board games to try out.

Qualifications For Best Board Games

Before hopping into the best board games we have to offer, here are the measures that we’ve taken when putting together this list. With these things in mind, you’ll be sure to be entertained with these board games.

  • Length – How long does it take to play through the game? Some games tend to lose their excitement after a while and drag on. These board games don’t for various reasons.
  • Engagement – The level of interaction that you have with other players and on the board is important. Makes the game fun, entertaining, and exciting to play no matter how long it takes to play through a round.
  • Complexity – From the rules down to the number of pieces, you want to ensure the complexity of the game isn’t too overwhelming. We’ve picked out games that have a learning curve, but not so much that it takes a long time to get the hang of it.
  • Rules – The rules should be written clearly and have a small amount of them. You want to be hopping into the game and not be forced to remember too many rules or constantly check the rule book for reference.
  • Players involved – Every person has a different living situation in quarantine. Some have a family, while others may be isolated on their own or with one other person. You want board games to be versatile and still playable whether there is only yourself or you have three or more other people with you.

1. Best Board Games Overall: Azul

    The first on our list of best board games for adults is Azul. It’s a relatively new board game and involves tile laying. The idea with Azul is you are racing with other players to decorate the wall of a fictional Portugeuse Palace. This game strikes a balance between strategy and planning your moves to being efficient.

    Even if it doesn’t sound that exciting at first, getting into the game you’ll find the strategy of this game to be complex enough that you can play it several times over. The mark of a great board game for sure.

    Buy Azul here.

    2. Best Board Games For Strategy: Splendor

      If you want more strategy involved in your game, we recommend trying out Splendor. It’s a highly rated strategy game amongst the board game community where each player is working towards building a jewelry empire. You do this through developing mines, collecting gems, and eventually opening up a storefront to sell these gems.

      The goal of the game is to have the most successful business in the end. To get there you’ll need to compete with other players over resources as well as infrastructure.

      The rules are straightforward making it easy to pick up, but there are many strategies you can go with this game. On top of that, its the type of game where your decisions can impact the course of the game in future turns.

      Buy Splendor here.

      3. Best Game For Cooperation: Pandemic

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        Much on the nose with this game – but great to play regardless – is Pandemic. This cooperative game pushes you to join intellectual forces with other players to stop the spread of diseases.

        In order to do this, each player takes on a role and collaborates to devise new treatment strategies. Going to different cities across the globe, you’ll collect cards that’ll help in treating outbreaks in certain hotspots.

        Overall, it’s a strategy based game as players have to plan out their moves carefully and are restricted in what they can do based on their role.

        Buy Pandemic here.

        4. Best Board Games With Trading: Catan

          Most circles call this game Settlers Of Catan, this is a classic game that is a delight to play with not much pressure. The premise of the game is to expand territory on settlements, roads, and cities. How you do this is through using resources like wood, stone and brick.

          How you get these resources is based on what areas you have roads or buildings. But more often than not, you’ll find yourself short on the resources that you need. This is where trading is involved where you are able to trade resources with other players.

          The rule book for this game can seem intimidating, however, it’s straightforward as you can tell. This game brings trading resources and interacting with other people in a unique way.

          Buy Catan here.

          5. Best Board Games For Larger Groups: 7 Wonders

            Whether you have a small or a large group, 7 Wonders is a solid game to try out. Most on this list are a four player game at maximum, 7 Wonders can have up to 7 players at a time. For this game, the length of the game is divided into three “ages”. During each age, you’ll be collecting cards that’ll help you build one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Each of these wonders will either have immediate or latent benefits to them.

            The goal overall is to have your civilization reign supreme. That said, there is no issue with taking a page from Catan and trading resources with players right next to you. You can even sell off your resources or even share insider knowledge and research if you like. The game is very easy to understand and games can last about 30 minutes making it a nice quick game regardless of player count.

            Buy 7 Wonders here.

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            6. Best Board Game For Long Games: Ticket To Ride

              Another classic and one of the best board games for adults out there is Ticket To Ride. This is a game that is brought up many times amongst board game users. Part of that reason may be due to the fact it has similarities to the older board game Monopoly.

              The only difference with Ticket To Ride is you’re building a railway system instead with way more tension in it. The goal is to collect the most points through placing a like-colored set of train cards on the board and connecting them to cities, building longer routes and building the longest continuous railway system by the end.

              Whether you are new to board games or a veteran, this is one of the best ones to try it out. The rule book is slim with only four pages long and two of them are illustrations. You can even get Amazon Alexa to both teach and play along with you.

              Buy Ticket To Ride here.

              7. Best Board Games For Short Games: Dominion

                Card-drawing board games are often the kind of games that go by quickly and one that comes to mind is Dominion. It’s medieval-themed where you start with 10 copper and estate cards. The goal of the game is amassing the most victory and treasure cards as you can which in turn allows you to buy even more valuable expensive cards.

                During the game, there are many cards that interact with another and with other players. For example, there are cards that allow you to look at other players’ hands and make various decisions, for better or worse.

                The game is similar to the story of a man who starts off with something small and benign and traded his way to something massive and expensive.

                Buy Dominion here.

                8. Best Card-Based Game: Boss Monster

                  While this isn’t exactly a board game, it is card based and is a lot of fun. It plays out similarly to dungeon crawlers where wizards, warriors, clerics, and rogues go into dungeons to slay the boss at the end. The only difference is that you are playing the boss now and need to stop the heroes from getting to you.

                  How you do this is by setting up your rooms with traps that deal damage to the heroes as they travel to each floor. You’ve also got spells to enhance your traps. This is on top of building your dungeon up in a way that the heroes would want to go there.

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                  There is a lot of strategy and planning involved with this game, however it’s one of the most straightforward games with plenty of replayability. Each game is going to be different than the last.

                  Buy Boss Monster here.

                  9. Best Board Games For Sleuths: Codenames

                    For small or large groups, codenames is a fun game where you divide yourself into two teams. From those teams, you’ll elect a “spymaster” who will then provide word clues to assist their team in identifying a secret word associated with that team. The secret words are based on seemingly random words provided from this game.

                    The catch with this game is that your clues can only be one word long, requiring the teams to think quickly and the spymaster to think strategically about the code words to get people to guess the proper code word.

                    Buy Codenames here.

                    10. Best Board Games For Two: Sequence

                      While there are certainly other board games that incorporate cards in them, Sequence is one to use them both in a unique way. In this game, players take turns putting down a card followed by a chip on the corresponding spot. The objective of this game is to have five chips, or sequences, in a row. Another way to describe the game is this is a larger and sophisticated version of Tic-Tac-Toe.

                      It’s good for two people, but considering the size of the board, you can get others involved too. The more players involved can add more layers of strategy and competition to it.

                      Buy Sequence here.

                      11. Best Board Games Solo: Geode Puzzles

                        While this isn’t a board game either, puzzles can be a lot of fun to do if you have spare time. While you can pick up any kind of puzzle, one that is nice for adults is geode puzzles.

                        Depending on the type of geode puzzles you get, some of them will have more unique and intricate pieces compared to traditional puzzle pieces. Furthermore, geode puzzles require more concentration and thought to them since they have specific patterns to them. It adds a layer of challenge to them since traditional pieces you can refer to the box art or where everything is placed.

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                        Buy Geode Puzzles here.

                        12. Best Board Games For Adults Who Love Nature: Wingspan

                          For those looking for a birds-eye view of nature, Wingspan is a great game with hours of entertainment. The art direction with this board game is especially unique while the gameplay provides hours of entertainment.

                          In the game, you are responsible for fostering a mini-ecosystem and building out a chain of wildlife preserves across four habitats. How you do this is by allocating food tokens found in bird feeder dice towers and eggs through unique playing cards. Each species has its own needs and special abilities so you’ll need to manage all of that while reaching your goal.

                          Buy Wingspan here.

                          13. Best Board Games For Adults Who Want Something Different: The Mind

                            A game that takes about 15 minutes to play but is incredibly interesting is The Mind. It’s similar to the card game Kent, but adds another level to it. In it, you’re playing cards from your hand in order (Ace, two, three, four…).

                            The catch with this game though is that players aren’t allowed to say anything about what is in their hand and you are forced to come up with your own non-verbal language in order to communicate with one another.

                            As simplistic of a game as it is, it’s a completely different one since it involves no talking at all and forces you to meld your minds together to complete this task.

                            Buy The Mind here.

                            Final Thoughts

                            Board games used to be simplistic in nature with games like Mouse Trap, Scrabble, Monopoly, and many others. Since those times, board games have expanded to more fun and exciting games that can provide hours of entertainment. There are hundreds out there, but we recommend looking at some of these best board games for adults to try out and enjoy.

                            Featured photo credit: Christopher Paul High via unsplash.com

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