That acoustic set at the cafe down the street may improve your overall health. The late-night hip hop show might help you feel more fulfilled. And a quick dip in the mosh pit at a heavy metal concert might be just what the doctor ordered.
Music has long been key to helping people manage their mental and emotional health, but a new study by behavioral science professor Patrick Fagan and the wireless company O2 — which coordinates concert series around the world — found that attending a live music show every two weeks might actually help people live longer.
"Our research showcases the profound impact gigs have on feelings of health, happiness and wellbeing—with fortnightly or regular attendance being the key," Fagan said. "Combining all of our findings with O2’s research, we arrive at a prescription of a gig a fortnight which could pave the way for almost a decade more years of life."
To conduct the study, Fagan strapped heart-rate monitors to participants and surveyed them after they completed activities associated with wellness, including concert-going, dog-walking and yoga. Fagan reported that taking in twenty minutes of live music every two weeks improves levels of self-perceived wellness by more than 20%.
More than two-thirds of respondents said the shared experience of watching music with others made them feel happier and healthier compared to listening to music alone. Concertgoers reported a 25% increase in feelings of self worth, a 25% increase in closeness to others and a 75% in mental stimulation.
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While the report is encouraging, experts say more research — especially research that isn’t funded by a concert company — must be conducted to determine more conclusive results about the potential health benefits of live music.
The report linking live music to improved mental health outcomes does, however, follow recent studies that associate emotional health with longer life expectancy.
For example, researchers in Finland found that "children who took part in singing classes had higher satisfaction rates at school" and music therapy has been associated with better sleep and mental health outcomes among people with schizophrenia. According to a five-year study by researchers at University College London, older adults who reported feeling happy were 35% less likely to die than their peers.
"We had expected that we might see a link between how happy people felt over the day and their future mortality, but we were struck by how strong the effect was," Andrew Steptoe, the study’s lead author, told CNN.