The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

By Victoria Alwin

Music has charms to soothe

Nutrition Corner


The phrase that many of us have heard is that “music has charms to soothe the savage breast” (no, not “beast”). Over the past several decades there has been a multitude of studies on how various types of music can have beneficial health effects. Its importance to nutrition is twofold: first, many people use food to self-medicate for stress, anxiety, and pain; second, music can make exercise easier and more fun.

Often people eat, not because they are hungry, but because they are using food to feel better. We have discussed before that sugar has a relaxing effect and caffeine can give energy. Food is also used when someone is angry or sad to literally “stuff” the unpleasant emotions down. Eating can be used when someone is depressed or it can be avoided for the problem, depending on the person.

Nice thing about music is that it has no calories. Studies have shown that the right music can soothe pain, anger, sadness, depression, anxiety and stress. Fair warning: the music that usually works best for these emotions is classical or has a slower tempo than the usual pop or heavy metal. The faster the beat, the faster the heart beats, which might NOT be what you need to relax. I have had people tell me that slower or classical music puts them to sleep. OK, what is wrong with that, when you are stressed to the point that you can hear your favorite chocolate cake, mochachino, or half pound bacon cheeseburger screaming your name? Even plants have been shown to have differing responses to various kinds of music. Classical still wins them over too. Another nice thing is that with the music available online, it is far more cost effective than self-medicating with eating.

If you are exercising, the faster, more “upbeat” music might be beneficial. I found out years ago that how fast I walked was determined by whether I was listening to fast music (think “Eye of the Tiger” or “Stronger”) or slower music such as the soundtrack to “Phantom of the Opera”. Exercise music has become enough of an art that you can type “exercise music” or “exercise beats per minute” into any search engine and up will come literally millions of possibilities, even on For me, I will exercise longer and better with faster music that I LIKE. Sorry, but I never liked Metallica; I do like the variety from Biggest Loser collections. Whatever works for you is the only thing that is important.

Lack the motivation to exercise? I have found that what works very well for me is to download an audiobook, which are free at the public library, into my MP3 player. I like mysteries; they work to get me started because I want to hear the next chapter to find out who-done-what.

The most important thing is that music and audiobooks can make you healthier, happier AND might make any exercise more enjoyable.


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