Want a fun way to live longer? Every couple of weeks, go to a concert. Or a dance. Or, really, anything where people experience music together. A 2018 Australian study of more than 1,000 respondents showed that attending any sort of music-focused event — from a dance to a concert of any size — increased life satisfaction, a result that could add up to nine years to life expectancy. The effect seems to be related to the communal experience, since listening to music alone didn't have the same benefit.
That doesn't mean solitary musical experiences don't confer their own benefits, however. Just 15 minutes of listening to music you like leads to increases in dopamine and serotonin levels, promoting feelings of happiness and excitement. Music during exercise helps improve performance and decrease the sense of exertion. You get the idea. Music offers measurable pleasures and health benefits, and listening to it is all gain, no pain. Go ahead, indulge.
There's another side to using music to benefit health, however. Music therapists are highly trained practitioners who use research-based insights about the brain's response to music to address complex medical issues. I'll bet you'll know someone who could benefit from this side-effect-free treatment that Josh Kelety explores in "The Magic of Music" on page 10.