What if we told you that doing one little thing would make you feel more inspired, loved, excited and enthusiastic about life while simultaneously making you less irritable, distressed, jittery and upset? And on top of all the good feels, it will boost your activity by 22 percent? The best part is you're probably holding the key in your hand right now: music.
Music is powerful medicine, according to recent research done by Sonos and Apple Music. (See: Your Brain On: Music.) They started by surveying 30,000 people worldwide about their music routines, and they found that half of us think music has no effect on our lives. (Clearly, these people have never tried to run on a treadmill in silence!) To test this, they then followed 30 families in different countries to see if—and how—their lives changed when they cranked the tunes at home.
For one week, the families were allowed no music, so the researchers could get a baseline of their normal every day activities and feelings. The following week, they were encouraged to play their tunes as often as they wanted. The only catch? They had to rock out out loud. No headphones were allowed in the experiment to maximize the social aspect of listening to music.
It was definitely good for their mental health, as the participants reported a 25 percent increase in happy feelings and a 15 percent decrease in worry and stress. They credit the effect to the ability of music to boost levels of serotonin—the "happy hormone"—in the brain. But they also discovered that it helped their physical health too.
"We could see that people were more active [at home] during the week with music," the study authors wrote. "We saw that the number of steps taken increased by two percent, and the amount of calories burned went up by three percent." (Science has long proven that music can make you run faster too.)
Three percent—about 60 extra calories per day for a 2,000 calorie diet—isn't much, but considering it's the result of doing something as fun, free, and easy as listening to your favorite songs, it just seems like (calorie-free) icing on the cake! Every little bit helps. (Next time you're at the gym, try one of these 4 Playlists Proven to Add Power to Your Workouts.)