weekly blog--one for the ages
This seems to be the year of the PorchFest. Two Saturdays ago there was one in Newton; last Saturday it was Brookline’s turn. If you haven’t been to one, it’s essentially a music festival where groups perform on the front porches and in the front yards of houses throughout town. But did you know that music may actually help boost your health as well as your mood? This happens whether you listen, play or sing.
Music can also alter your brain chemistry, and these changes may produce cardiovascular benefits. According to researchers, music enables people to exercise longer during cardiac stress testing done on a treadmill or stationary bike. It can also improve blood vessel function by relaxing arteries, help heart rate and blood pressure levels to return to baseline more quickly after physical exertion, ease anxiety in heart attack survivors, and help people recovering from heart surgery to feel less pain and anxiety.
Like other pleasurable sensations, listening to or creating music triggers the release of dopamine, a brain chemical that makes people feel engaged and motivated. This connection could explain why relaxing music may lower heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, and ease pain, stress, and anxiety.
Alas, if you are a musician, music may be good for the mind, but it may not be good for the body. The most common problems playing stem from repetitive motion, often in combination with an awkward body position and the weight or pressure of the musical instrument. A Canadian study found that 39% to 47% of adult musicians suffer from overuse injuries, mostly involving the arms.
A particularly disabling ailment of highly trained musicians is focal dystonia, a movement disorder that might be caused by overuse of parts of the nervous system. Another hazard is hearing loss caused by prolonged exposure to loud music. Brass and wind players may develop skin rashes triggered by allergies to the metal in their instruments. And the list includes disorders ranging from fiddler's neck to Satchmo's syndrome--rupture of a muscle that encircles the mouth.
And then there is a pop band in Japan whose players are all over the age of 80: https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/08/health/japan-longevity-centenarians-aging-population/index.html