It is easy to think of rock music as being angry and aggressive, but research suggests that listening to hard rock could actually make you happier and healthier. Even heavy metal, which we associate with rage and mayhem, can provide balm for the soul and turn a bad mood into a positive one. Here we investigate some of the benefits of rock music that you should know about…
1. HAPPY METAL
A study was carried out in 2015 for the journal Self and Identity to examine how growing up as heavy metal fans in the 1980s had impacted on the lives of adults. You may be aware that in the ‘80s there was a certain amount of controversy about heavy metal music, as religious groups – particularly in the States – linked it to ‘satanic worship’. Clearly that was a load of old nonsense, and it seems equally clear that listening to heavy rock can actually have a positive impact. The group of 377 adults which was surveyed revealed that metal rock fans were happier and less regretful than those who preferred other types of music, or who weren’t music fans at all.
2. ROCK OUT WHILE YOU WORK OUT
Many of us like to listen to music when we go to the gym or head out onto the streets for a run. It turns out that there are a number of benefits of listening to music when you exercise, and it helps you to maximise your efforts. For example, a study in 2010 discovered that cyclists worked harder when listening to fast tempo rock music. Listening to your favourite tunes also acts as a distraction, helping you to forget about the physical exertions you are going through. The right music can also put you in the right frame of mind to exercise and helps you to get into the ‘zone’ where you are maximising your effort. And of course, the more we exercise, the healthier (and happier) we will be.
rock fans were happier and less regretful than those who preferred other types of music
3. BRAIN BOOSTER
Listening to a young child or teenager trying to master the intricacies of the guitar may be somewhat wince-inducing, but it could just be doing them good. A number of studies – including one carried out in 2006 and published in the Journal of Educational Psychology – suggest a correlation between learning to play a musical instrument and slight increases in IQ. More recent studies focused on adolescents have shown that music students demonstrated increased facility for learning languages. Various research also found a lot of benefits in learning to play music. For example, it has been posited that musical training increases verbal reasoning, memory, literacy and spatial learning. Just remember that the next time your peace is disturbed by the squawking electric guitar of a novice player!
4. GIGS ARE GOOD FOR YOU
Researchers from Victoria’s Deakin University in Australia surveyed more than 1,000 people, and discovered that people who regularly attended music concerts reported a higher level of satisfaction with their lives. This active participation in the music scene appears to convey greater benefits than just passively listening to music at home or on your phone. It’s something to do with sharing the live experience both with the band, as well as with the other fans at the gig. It should be borne in mind that this survey relied on self-reported data, which can be inaccurate. Also, it is possible to wonder about the cause and effect element, in that maybe happier people tend to go to concerts more often, rather than the other way around. However, it certainly seems that the shared communal experience of attending a live music event will be a positive experience, and one that will lift your mood.
5. DOES THE HEART GOOD
It turns out that listening to rock music can be good for your heart. According to a study undertaken by the Institute of Cardiology, in the University of Nis, Serbia, listening to music we enjoy releases endorphins from the brain. This in term boosts our vascular health, with research suggesting that music like this can boost our blood-flow by up to 26%. Healthy circulation means reduced blood pressure and lessens the possibility of heart problems. In the test case, patients with cardiovascular issues were divided into three groups: one group took exercise classes for 3 weeks, the second took exercise classes and listened to their favourite music for 30 minutes a day, and the third just listened to music. Those who combined exercise and music improved their exercise capacity by 39%, compared to the exercise only group (29%) and the music-only group (19%). So just listening to music alone managed to increase the patients’ capacity for exercise, according to this 74-person experiment. Quite an excuse to avoid going to the gym this week!