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People who play musical instruments have healthier and more functional brains, new study finds

Music is not only a free therapy for your soul but it can prove to be beneficial for your cognitive health as well.

People who play musical instruments have healthier and more functional brains, new study finds
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Alfo Medeiros

Music has always been considered a healing element for the soul and recently, research has confirmed it. Not only music is a powerful medicine for the soul but it aids the brain in the same way as well. According to research published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, it was found that playing music to elderly individuals who have not been diagnosed with dementia can help them stay sharp and improve their cognitive skills. This research has been encouraging more accessible music programs as a part of public health initiatives where it's required.

Representative Cover Image Source: Pixabay/Claudia Peters
Representative  Image Source: Pexels | Claudia Peters

It's common knowledge that a person's cognitive abilities and mental state start to decline with age, but music is proving to be a solution to slow down the process. The research was conducted on 1,100 people starting from the age of 40 and above. The average age of the participants in the study was 68. "Because we have such sensitive brain tests for this study, we are able to look at individual aspects of the brain function, such as short-term memory, long-term memory and problem-solving and how engaging music affects that," lead author Anne Corbett told the BBC.

"Our brain is a muscle like anything else and it needs to be exercised and learning to read music is a bit like learning a new language, it's challenging," Corbett added. "The message is around how people can proactively reduce their risk of cognitive decline or dementia and think about engaging with music as a way of doing that. This study does suggest that it could be part of a much wider lifestyle approach to improving brain health as you age."

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Alfo Medeiros
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Alfo Medeiros

The research also looked into the effects of singing, reading sheet music, playing an instrument and listening to other people perform. The people who played instruments, for example, an elderly who played piano, demonstrated that they received some of the best benefits from their musical hobby. The "multiple cognitive demands" involved in coordinating the hand, tongue, eyes and brain while playing music may be the cause of this. Singing has its own set of advantages as well maybe because it's a communal activity, which pushes aged folks to be more active and involved with group activities.

Besides that, playing instruments, listening to music and dancing can prove to be beneficial for people's physical and mental health. It is proven by Oklahoma City Ballet and they have taken up a wholesome initiative to help elderlies suffering from various ailments and help them maintain their health in a fun way. The ballet troupe launched a program in 2016 called "Golden Swans," where they started offering free ballet and dance lessons to the city's senior citizens. In 2017, they offered a special lesson for people who were diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and it was called "Dance for Parkinson's." Jo Lynne Jones, the executive director of the ballet company, told Good Morning America.



 

"The health benefits of dance lessons are great and instructors have fine-tuned the classes to meet the needs of their students so they can enjoy the exercises comfortably," Jones added. In the special class provided for the folks affected with Parkinson's, the dance lessons involve practicing their moves while sitting comfortably in a chair. The feedback from the elderlies with Parkinson's has been nothing but positive and they have revealed that they are enjoying the dance lessons and have been blending well into their newfound dance community.



 

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