Honestly, who doesn’t like music? Nobody! Music is an absolutely universal art used and enjoyed by societies across the world from prehistoric times to this very day. The uses of music are numerous, including: A means for expression, communication, creativity, storytelling, teaching, learning, mood regulation, environment creating, social interaction, a community experience, social identification, medical treatment, and so on.
I can honestly say with 100% certainty that I am not the only one out there who has very significant emotional responses to certain songs based on past experiences, and also that certain types of music cause very different emotions. For instance, easy listening R&B is very relaxing, while hard-core rap is more appropriate for getting ready for an intense workout, if those are your choices of music.
Another great thing about music is it’s ability to help us change our moods and emotions. Have you ever experienced a point in time where you we having a horrible day and in a really depressed state (like maybe you had a really bad day on the golf course?). OK, maybe that was not the best example since golf isn’t the most important thing in life…what…I didn’t say that, I take it back 🙂
Anyway, back to my example. So, you are feeling really down, but then you get home and turn on the radio, or throw your MP3/phone/tablet on while on your commute home from work and a really upbeat song comes on (like this one, or this one), and magically your mood is totally changed. It’s some pretty amazing stuff and for me, music has, and still does, play a very big role in my life.
Music and Our Health, the Science
It’s not just our personal subjective experiences that prove music is good for our health. No, there is a significant amount of research both past and present focusing on how music improves, or possible decreases our health. As you can imagine, most of the effects are on psychological well being, but as we all know, this ties directly to or physical well being. Interestingly though, one study (1) I found indicates that music can have a direct impact on our cells (our non-hearing cells!). Basically, depending on the type of music they were exposed to, the cellular phase in which they were in was effected. Basically music caused more cell to be in DNA replication and degradation. I am not sure if this is either good or bad, but it is darn cool if you ask me.
Music has been shown to be beneficial for both pre and postnatal periods (2), for people with asthma (3), and for the overall health of people with chronic ailments (4). With respect to mood and psychological health, music is shown to improve general health based on it’s ability to help us deal with stress and control our emotions (5, 6). More specifically, it can not only change our mood from negative to positive, as outlined in my above example, the relationship between music and emotional regulation is a bit more complicated. One study (7) found that people choose music that fit with the mood/emotions of the individual at the time of choosing the music. So, this did not change their mood; however, what they found/hypothesized was that the music allowed the individuals to more effectively deal with their internal state and come to terms with it much faster than not listening to music. This ultimately related to a faster recovery, if you will, from their negative moods, and possibly less of a chance of mood relapse for the same reasons.
Another study (8) was able to show that music can actually reduce our physiology recovery time following a stressful situation. The researchers did this by measuring levels of stress hormones following a stressful event in people listening to music and not listening to music. However, another study (9) was able to show that there is a difference in people’s stress levels when listening to pleasant music or unpleasant music. Basically, do yo like the music or not. In order to do this they used music played normally and then music played backwards. The backwards music actually increased stress and the regular music decreased it. So the message here is listen to music you like.
Music and Golf
With all this talk about the benefits of music I wondered how we can apply it to benefit our golf games and here are some thing I have come up with:
- Before Your Round – Listen to music that will get you appropriately pumped up for your round and/or listen to music while you warm up to keep you focused on what you need to do during your round
- During Your Round – Control emotions and stress. While you can’t listen to actual music during a competitive round of golf you can sing something to yourself in your head or hum quietly, which can help with emotional and stress control in a similar way to certain breathing techniques many players use during a round.
- After your Round – After a bad round, music can be used to help you move past the post bad round blues, or even better, it can help you celebrate after you shoot your best round ever, or a tournament win!
- At the Range – Some find that listening to music can help focus your mind on the tasks required of you during practice. While this may not be for everyone, it is worth experimenting with. For this, I think music choice is key as you don’t want something that would be overly distracting and this is a personal choice.
At the end of the day, listen to music and listen to it often based on your mood; just make sure it is music you like, it’s good for your health!
The Barefoot Golfer