Here are some articles that I found interesting:
"sittin' in my ya, ya, waitin' for my la, la"
SING, SING, SING
Perhaps you sing in the shower, improvise duets with your favorite opera or rock star, or sing in a choir. If so, you do it for pleasure, undoubtedly. But are there any health benefits from singing? Scientists, and singers, wonder about this, too. Here are a few intreaguing findings, some weightier than others:
Singing and asthma: Studies have found that singing helps people with asthma and bronchitis because of the deep breathing, and because a variety of muscles, such as the diaphragm, get a workout. There's even some evidence that singing lessons can help suppress snoring.
...and the immune system: Researchers in Germany studied antibodies (part of a healthy immune response) and stress hormones in members of an amateur choir, comparing levels when the singers were singing or just listening. Their stress hormones went up when they listened, and their antibodies went up when they sang, possibly because singing made the singers feel good and they didn't like just listening. Temporary changes in immunity mean very little, however. Many activities produce ups and downs in antibodies and stress hormones.
...and growing older: In a survey called "Creativity and Aging" from researchers at George Washington University, members of senior chorales in the District of Columbia, San Francisco and Brooklyn reported better health and fewer falls than nonsingers.
...and Alzheimer's: A British Branch of the Alzheimer's Society reports that singing is helpful for patients with dementia. Singing familiar songs and learning new ones can help build selfesteem and alleviate loneliness. Though there is no proof that engaging in such memory-dependent exercises as singing or learning new mental skills can prevent Alzheimer's, many experts think such activities may at least help delay the onset of memory problems in some people.
...and sociability: Chorus America, an organization of singing grouops, conducted a survey a few years ago, and found that more people in the U.S. and Canada take part in choral singing than in any other performing art, and that most singers say that singing in a chorus builds social confidence.
...and human intelligence: Walter Freeman, a famous neurobiologist at UC Berkeley, believes that singing and dancing are genetic in origin, and that they helped the brain evolve. They have also served as a means of transmitting knowledge from one generation to another.
YOUR OWN SING-A-LONG
It isn't difficult to find a singing group. Churches and other organizations have choirs or sponsor community singing. Dr. William Pereira, a musician and longtime member of the Wellness Letter Editorial Board, says that "singing energizes your whole body and soul." Group singing at home used to be a major form of entertainment. All you need is a piano or guitar and a songbook. (taken from UC Berkley Wellness Letter, December 2007)
Everything in your environment
may have some impact on your health.
Yes, that even includes music -- music is an important part
of our "environment". Although NIEHS does not study the effects of music on
the body, other scientists have studied its impact on physical and mental
functions for many years. Most notably, music can measurably reduce stress and
pain levels. For example, research
supported by the National Institute of Nursing Research recently found
that listening to music reduced patients' pain levels following major
abdominal surgery. And Michael Holton, a 1st Place winner in the Biological
Sciences category of an NIEHS sponsored Science Fair also determined
that the tempo of music can affect your heart rate.
In 1986 the first issue of an American quarterly journal called "Medical Problems of Performing
Artists" was printed. In it was an article by the pianist Gary Graffman
entitled "Doctor, Can You Lend Me an Ear?" It described a serious hand problem
which had forced him to give up his very successful performing career at the
end of the 1970's, and discussed the lack of understanding he had experienced
from all the doctors he had visited.
The article resulted in a deluge of
letters to the press from musicians who were thankful that someone had finally
come out of the closet and admitted to having a problem. As Graffman said "...
instrumentalists' hand problems - somewhat like social diseases - were
unmentionable. Understandably so: If a performer is still performing, or hopes
to get back on the road soon, he'd be crazy to advertise his disabilities.
Nobody wants a wounded pianist. There is an oversupply of healthy ones.
Admitting difficulties is like jumping, bleeding, into piranha-filled waters."
The medical community were at last alerted to the problem and there are now
an increasing number of Performing Arts Clinics worldwide.
TUNES IN OUR HEAD: Oliver Sacks on the power of music to heal us and transform our lives (From AARP Magazine Jan-Feb, 2008)
"I'd always suspected we were a musical species," says Oliver Sacks, 75 the famed neurologist and author of Awakenings, explaining how he decided to delve deeply into understanding the role of music in the brain. But his research turned up more than he'd anticipated. "I'm actually amazed at how much of the brain is recruited for musical experience," he says. The ability to appreciate music, he believes, is a defining quality of our humanity. In his new book, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (knopf), he shares his discoveries. He talked to us about music's astounding potential.
*Music as medicine-- "In music therapy for Parkinson's disease, where my interest got kindled, the rhythm of the music is crucially important. People with Parkinson's misjudge time grossly and have difficulty coordinating speech with their movements, so they tend to stutter or stumble, or just come to a stop. While the music lasts, it gives them precisely what they lack, which tempo and rhythm and organized time. The music doesn't have to be familiar or particularly emotionally evocative for them. For people with alzheimer's, it's a different story. For these patients, the evocativeness of music is primary-the music has to recall emotions and scenes and memories they seem to have lost. Even for those with advanced Alzheimer's who have lost language, music can grab them and calm or stimulate them. It's enormously powerful."
*Compensating-- "Blindness seems to enhance many people's appreciation of music. And many deaf people are able to analyze very complex experiences in the peripheral visual field, which sighted people can't do. I think whatever sense one loses, there's a sort of compensation. You can see in scans how, when one part of the brain isn't getting its normal input, it won't be wasted. It will be pressed to another use."
*Musical hallucinations-- "Imagining music can activate parts of the brain almost as vividly as listening to music. But our enormous sensitivity to music also has certain dangers, including those catchy tunes that infuriatingly repeat in our heads. These musical hallucinations evaporate eventually, but probably the best relief is listening to other music."
*Music haters-- " an emotional response to music is very strong and almost universal, yet there are a few baffling exceptions. Sigmund Freud, for example, lacked appreciation for music altogether. I actually think something was missing in Freud's life, and perhaps his analytical communications would have been richer with music. But he's a puzzle because, at least from the few things he says, one wonders if in fact he was suppressing an emotional response because it mystified or angered him.
*Beatlemania?-- "I didn't respond to the Beatles, probably because I was 30 when they appeared. But I think if I'd been 15, it would have been very different. It's such a passionate and impressionable time in life. And I don't think it's just music. It's the poetry, the landscapes, the paintings. I can recall novels I read at 15 or 20 in boring detail. But I don't remember what I read at 60 nearly as well."
*Transcendence-- "I surround myself with music-Chopin, Bach-and it takes me places I can't take myself. The last concert I went to, I watched the most amazing conductor, David Randall, who is in his 90s but as agile and energetic as someone in his 20s. He leapt up onto the podium and conducted a wonderful Mendelssohn's Walpurgisnacht. I see a lot of sad, sick, aging people, but I also see people like Randall. He gave an amazing impromptu talk. Resilient, witty. There was just no age there."........Richard Gehr writes the daily blog "Music for Grownups" (www.aarp.org/fun/music/).
MUSIC + MOVEMENT = BETTER BRAIN POWER
My wife is in the medical industry and is always helping me to stay on top of things healthwise. Here's an article by Jorge Cruise who writes for FitSmart: Brain-dead at work? Throw on your headphones and hit the pavement.
We know exercise improves mood, but research at Ohio State suggests working out to music boosts the brain as well. The study tested people's emotions and verbal fluency before and after exercise. Verbal ability improved only when music accompanied the exercise. So if you're on deadline and the mojo's not flowing, take 20 minutes to walk around the block with your MP3 player pumping tunes. Even with the break, you'll finish hour project faster; because you'll operate at a higher level when you get back to your workspace.
SONIC HEALTH BOOST
(BY: JORDAN LITE, PREVENTION MAGAZINE: JAN 2008)
After years of drifting from one ineffective treatment to another, Andrea Bowen is rhapsodic about the one that finally relieved her chronic back problems: music therapy.
"It was a godsend," says Bowen, 55, of Weld, ME. "Music helped me relax through the pain. It was really the beginning of a new life for me."
As Bowen learned, music offers more than mere entertainment. Exciting new research is showing that good melody makes good medicine--dulling pain, reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, boosting mood, and curing insomnia. Today, certified music therapists treat heart disease, ashma, Alzheimer's and more (to find one near you, call the American Music Therapy Association at 301-589-3300). But you don't need to study music theory to reap the benefits. Here's how to find harmony between your physical and mental health...........
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