Parties, fame, and fortune aside, there’s a reason why we look up to rockstars, why we call them our heroes and hope to one day be like them. Now I won’t argue that The Rolling Stones and Red Hot Chili Pepper’s have access to some of the top physicians and specialists in the world, but it seems to me that guitar players, in particular, have this sort of immortal presence both on stage and off.
Maybe the axe is just as powerful as any diet, exercise plan, or supplement to maintaining a healthy life? Men’s Health Magazine certainly believes that the guitar serves as a “six string solution for a healthier mind, body.” Let’s find out why:
A neuro-scientific study from McGill University found that hearing music, including listening to the music that you’re playing, triggers the release of dopamine, otherwise known as the “motivation molecule.” Helping to boost our drive and focus, dopamine releases positive energy when something great presents itself and makes us feel great!
Play the pain away
When it comes to chronic pain, one of the best treatments is distraction. A study from the University of Utah’s Pain Research Center was able to uncover a relationship between listening to music and reducing pain. By activating sensory pathways that compete with pain pathways, music is able to help reduce pain through stimulating an emotional response within the listener, engaging with their cognitive attention system. “Music, therefore, provided meaningful intellectual and emotional engagement to help reduce pain.”
Hard rock, healthy heart
If you tinker around on your guitar for a little over an hour everyday, you may have a stronger heart than your peers who don’t. A study from the Netherlands found that musicians who practice for approximately 100 minutes each day were measured to have lower blood pressure and heart rates than their non-musical peers.
Musicians are known to posses some of the most creative ways of learning and thinking about their craft. Research has shown that there are performers who visualize music in terms of its shape and different moving parts, and that process in itself is a form of practice. These musicians are simply working their brains out even when their instrument isn’t in their hands, using their brains in the same way they would if they were creating melodies out loud.
Additionally, a Scottish study discovered that those who play musical instruments are less likely to experience mental decline in the future.
Shred stress away
I’m sure we’ve all felt Under Pressure at one point or another, and some more than others, however a dual study from the Mind-Body Wellness Center and Loma Linda University School of Medicine and Applied Biosystems uncovered a perfect weapon against pressure and stress: music. Playing music has been tied to reducing stress on a genomic level, reserving our body’s response system to pressure, making us feel zenned out and even reinvigorated.