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Researchers are now discovering what people in New Orleans have known for decades – listening to jazz can improve your health.

Dancing to jazz is good for your health, of course, because the swing and blues notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation keep your body moving. But, simply listening to jazz can actually optimize your health by sharpening your focus, boosting your cardiovascular health, improving your mood, helping you sleep, supporting your immune system and more.

Health Benefits of Listening to Jazz

Music can improve your health by stimulating changes in your brain and body. Listening to music stimulates your hypothalamus, which is the section of the brain that helps regulate breathing, heartbeat and other body responses. The hypothalamus is also associated with emotional activity. Listening to jazz and other pleasant music makes you happy, which affects your hypothalamus in a way that slows your heart, relaxes your breathing and lowers your blood pressure. People who listen to jazz are 25 percent less depressed than are people who do not listen to jazz.

Listening to slow jazz can help you get the sleep you need for good health. While adults typically fall asleep within 30 minutes, people over the age of 50 may have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Music reduces the stress-related brain chemical, nor-adrenaline, and acts like a sedative to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Slow jazz is particularly helpful at inhibiting the production of nor-adrenaline. “Blue in Green” by Miles Davis, “Almost Blue” by Chet Baker and John Coltrane’s “Blue Train” are especially relaxing.

Listening to jazz music can help support your immune system and protect you from infections. Listening to jazz for 30 minutes boosts the levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA), a natural substance that prevents viral and bacterial infection. IgA levels remain high for 30 minutes after the music stops playing.

One study, presented by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, found that listening to jazz after surgery could reduce heart rate. The results suggest that post-operative patients who listen to jazz might need less pain medication and may be more relaxed.

Research shows listening to music can affect the cardiovascular system. Jazz opens up blood vessels by as much as 30 percent to lower your blood pressure. Additionally, music with crescendos, especially songs with a series of crescendos, constricts blood vessels to increase blood pressure, heart rate and respiration. Songs without such climaxes reduced blood pressure.

Jazz does a number on pain. Listening to jazz can reduce the duration and intensity of migraine and general headaches, for example. Enjoying jazz can even reduce chronic pain. In one study, those who listened to an hour of jazz each day for a week had a 21 percent reduction in pain and a 25 percent reduction in depression, while those who did not listen to music experienced a 2 percent increase in pain. Because it helps relieve pain so well, many hospitals are using music therapy to reduce the need for medication during childbirth, decrease pain after surgery and as a complement to anesthesia during surgery. Listening to jazz after a stroke can improve focus, mood and verbal memory.

Listening to jazz can even improve your performance on the putting green, according to research published in the August 2014 issue of Journal of Athletic Enhancement. While other research shows that listening to any kind of music improves overall athletic performance and exercise endurance, participants in the 2014 study who listened to jazz could putt better than those who listened to other musical genres.

The Monterey Jazz Festival

Forest Hill is conveniently located near the Monterey Jazz Festival, the longest continuously running annual jazz event on earth. Forest Hill has a long-standing history of living well, offering jazz and other types of music, dance, theater, art, lectures, history, movies and shopping. Like the Monterey Jazz Festival, many activities offered by Forest Hill are conveniently planned and close to home. Contact us to learn more about the benefits of jazz or to receive information about our California retirement community. 

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