Does it surprise you to hear that music benefits mental health? Perhaps not. Maybe you’ve experienced the sudden change a particular song can bring to your mood and experience of the day. When you discover how much a tune can bring you back to a certain special moment in your life, remind you of someone you love, or just keep you on task when you’re studying or working, the concept becomes much clearer. That said, what might surprise you is that research shows that it’s not just a bit beneficial. It’s as beneficial as exercise, which is among the most powerful lifestyle factors for controlling symptoms.

How Researchers Know Music Benefits Mental Health

A recent meta-analysis of 26 studies involving a total of 779 participants showed that playing, singing or listening to music benefits mental health to the same degree as exercise or weight loss. The results of the study were published in the JAMA journal.

The participants in the studies analyzed had done everything from listening to gospel music as heart disease prevention to participating in a choir as a component of cancer recovery. That said, together, the studies were a look at the connection between songs and wellbeing.  This helped to show how music benefits mental health.

In the published paper, the researchers stated: “Increasing evidence supports the ability of music to broadly promote wellbeing and health-related quality of life (HRQOL).” Additionally, the research took some initial steps into understanding the degree of advantage listening to the right tunes can provide do that overall wellbeing. 

Gaining Understanding to Create Interventions, Policy and Care

The researchers underscored that while their study showed that music benefits mental health and overall wellness in a powerful way – just as exercise and weight loss do – but that there remains a lot of work to do in getting to know just how this can be implemented to best benefits people. By diving into this strategy more deeply, it will become possible to know how to recommend the use of song for treating issues, reducing symptoms or even preventing certain problems from arising in the first place.

This type of approach is becoming increasingly welcome as doctors and patients seek non-pharmaceutical interventions to mental and physical ailments. Just as the best supplements for eye health are becoming a top non-pharmaceutical option for vision care, tunes could become great options for supporting the mind. If music therapies that maximize the benefits to mental health can be properly developed and recommended to patients, it can provide an affordable, enjoyable way for them to prevent and manage unwanted and avoidable symptoms.