February 16, 2018

Listening to Music A More Effective Stress Relief than Exercise

Listening to music after a hard day is one of the most relaxing and gratifying things that people can do.  You may be surprised to learn just how relaxing it is.  Based on a survey conducted by Sonos Playbar, listening to music proved to be a 40 percent more effective stress reducer than exercise.

Given that exercise is an established method to reduce stress, and stress reduction correlates with positive changes in health, outlook and mood, perhaps music should be prescribed by healthcare professionals as a stress reduction method.  People should also consider incorporating music into their daily routing to manage stress and mood.

What we Found

We conducted a survey of 110 of our users and asked them about their stress levels before and after exercising, and before and after listening to music.  We asked them to base their stress levels on a scaled of 1 (least stress) to 10 (most stress).  The results were very interesting.

Users reported an average starting stress rating of 7.2 on a scale of 1-10.  On average people reported a stress reduction of 3.12 on the scale of 1-10 from exercise, and an average reduction of 4.27 from music.  Based on this survey, music is about 40% more effective at reducing stress than exercise, though both are very beneficial.

While exercise is a well established stress reduction technique, and has been the subject of scientific studies, music does not have the same investment in the study of its ability to manage stress.  While our survey relied on self reporting, it indicates that music may be more effective at managing stress than exercise.  It is probable that regular listeners to music should experience the health benefits associated with reduced stress levels.

It should be noted that less than 2% of those surveyed indicated an increase in stress from either activity, and less than 5% indicated no change.  In other words, 93% of respondents experienced stress reduction from both exercise and music.

Health professionals should study the relationship between music and stress reduction, and see if listening to music regularly should be a prescribed technique that people use to improve their health and manage their stress and anxiety.

Benefits of Stress Reduction

Stress reduction is associated with a number of health benefits.  The biggest of these include:

  • Cardiovascular health
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Reduced depression
  • Better body composition
  • Less fatigue
  • Reduced general inflamation
  • Better immune system

Clearly reducing stress is important for both mental and physical health.  Long term, stress causes relationships to suffer, and the deteriorating health effects can have a big effect on longevity.  To improve mood and general well being, a stress reduction routine is important for everyone to develop.

Both exercise and music represent viable options to reduce stress.  Because people often listen to music while they exercise, it would be interesting to isolate the effects of the exercise from music alone, and see if music and exercise have an added stress reducing synergy over either one by themselves.

What should People Do?

There is some research that shows an 8 minute song can reduce stress by up to 65%.  If you are listening to music specifically to reduce stress, it would be helpful to find the music that has the greatest effect on you.  It is likely different for everyone, but most music probably conveys some benefit.  As you experiment, note the song you are listening to, as well as the artist and the genre of music.  Try listening to similar types of music and see if it has the same effect.

Finding time can be a challenge for some, but there are opportunities.  During a commute, on a lunch break or other work break, driving kids to soccer practice, or even a few minutes before bed are all options.

If you have a good speaker system in your home, you can listen while you make dinner, do laundry, or clean.  Get creative, and see how you can incorporate music into your life.  We sell speakers such as the Sonos Playbar, which allows people to control music right from their smart phones.  This can make listening to your favorite music in your home extremely easy.

However you listen to music, try doing it a little more often.  It just might improve your mood and health.