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10 Ways Music Is Good For Your Health

Laughter can suck it. The proven medical benefits of music can change your life.

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2. And it can work better than drugs.

Flickr: mirjoran

In one study, patients who were about to undergo surgery either listened to music or took anti-anxiety medications. The result: Those who listened to music were less anxious and stressed than those who took drugs.

4. It can help you recover from injury.

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Your brain is "plastic," meaning it can change throughout your life. An injury can block pathways in the brain and interfere with normal body functions, but music can help your brain take a detour or create a new path for these functions. When U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords suffered a gunshot wound to her head, her music therapist Maegen Morrow used music to access the language part of her brain.

5. It can improve your heart health.

Flickr: morphicx

When study subjects listened to their favorite music for a half hour, their blood vessels dilated an average of 26%. . The expansion releases nitric oxide, a chemical that acts as a bodyguard against inflammation and clot formation, keeping your vessels young. Just 30 minutes of happy music (your favorite, not "Don't Worry, Be Happy" on loop, unless that's your favorite) on a regular basis can do the trick.

6. It can be intensely pleasurable.

The saccule, an inner part of your ear that connects to your sex and hunger drives, may simulate the pleasure you feel when you blast your earbuds—but it only responds to sounds 90 decibels or louder (rock concerts are about 120). Just don’t go overboard: Sustained sounds that loud can cause hearing loss.

7. And can be even more intensely pleasurable if you're a musician.

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When McGill University researchers scanned the brains of musicians who felt euphoric when they heard music, they found it was activating the same reward systems as eating, sex, or addictive drugs—giving you the same pleasure without the rehab stint.

8. It can make you a smartypants.

Flickr: ed_welker

Clanking your trumpet against your teeth in elementary school band wasn't all for naught: Playing music can help you learn better. Just 15 months of practice in early childhood showed brain structural changes like more gray matter in their noggins.

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