Monday, April 15, 2019

7 Scientific Studies Prove Exercise Makes You A Better Musician | Music Think Tank

What does it take to become a successful musician?

Some say it’s hard work. Others suggest it is in the DNA. However, inborn talent can only take you so far. The success in the music industry is not different from the successes in any other field. You need to have some passion, loads of dedication, andright attitude. But there’s something that comes before everything else.

A study by Help Musicians UK revealed that musicians are three times more likely to suffer from mental illness. Self-doubts, and stress resulting from the rejections, the failures, and the incredibly high-pressure take its toll on your mind and body. It is incredibly important to take care of your mental and physical health because you cannot have a long and fulfilling career with poor health. 

Here are a few reasons why exercise will make you a better musician:


1. It improves your creativity.

Creativity is part genetic and part nurture. It is essentially a function of mind and exercise results in the growth of fresh grey matter in our brain. New brain cells mean a stronger and sharper mind. Research has also found that exercise will instantly improve your mood and creativity. You will surely be able to produce much better music with a better mood and creativity.


That’s not all.


A simple exercise like walking has shown to improve cognitive functions linked to creativity and convergent thinking. It also helps your mind to embrace more ideas. That is why getting up and going for a walk is considered the best way to deal with a mental block and get fresh ideas.


Isn’t that what you want?


2. It is essential for mental health and  well-being.

From Kurt Cobain to Avicii, the music industry has lost many extremely talented musicians to mental illness and suicides. The aforementioned study by Help Musicians UK revealed that 71% of musicians suffer from depression and anxiety. There’s a lot of pressure and the haphazard lifestyle also makes it difficult to relax.


Stress management takes some effort but one of the easiest and most effective ways to release negative energy and relax is exercise.  


Researchers studied the genetic data of 300,000 adults and found that regular exercise can reduce the risk of depression by 26%. The best part is that you do not need to spend hours in the gym. This is possible with just 15 - 20 minutes of vigorous activity.

Most of us think that happiness or sorrow is a mental state that we cannot control. However, research has shown that regular exercise or physical activity can make you happy. On the other hand, spending all the time on your couch or studio will trigger sad and negative emotions. People who are more active maintain better mood and energy levels.


3. It boosts your self-confidence.

Confidence is the key to succeed in any career but it is an absolute must for music artists. Make no mistake, you will have to deal with all sorts of disappointments, like bad reviews, low turnouts, or lack of gigs. Self-doubt will kill the artist inside you. You need a lot of confidence to keep fighting despite all challenges.


Regular exercise can improve your posture and good posture can improve your confidence. It is explained briefly in this Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy. She shares an experiment where the participants stood in a high-power pose for just two minutes. It increased their testosterone levels (high confidence) and reduced cortisol levels (low stress).  


A meta-analysis of 57 scientific studies concluded exercise will boost your confidence and body image. You will feel more physically fit and confident because exercise improves flexibility and balance.


4. It adds a few years to your life.

A simple exercise like running can add three to seven years to your life. It improves your cardiovascular health and reduces the risk of diabetes and obesity. It is also  builds bone density, improves blood flow, endurance, and strength, and the list goes on.  


This is why numerous researches have shown that exercise can improve life expectancy. You can get even better results with a competitive sport like badminton or tennis. And another thing, exercise will slow down your aging process. High levels of physical activity have shown to reduce up to 9 years of biological aging. This means you will look, think, and feel much younger than your age.


All things considered, a regular exercise can add a good 5 - 10 years to your career. How cool is that?   


5. It helps control drug addiction.


Musicians (38.6%) and actors (23.2%) are well on top in the list of celebrities who died from drug abuse in the past three decades. This is an incredibly high percentage compared to other professions e.g. 4.5% in business people and 1.4% in politicians.

Dave Mustaine, a famous guitarist and singer, wasn’t joking when he said that drugs, money or women have ruined every band in existence.


Discipline is important for a successful life and regular exercise can help build discipline. You will learn to stop seeking instant gratification and make healthier decisions. Exercise is all about discipline and self-control and that’s all you need to steer clear of the addictions.


Here’s another study that shows exercise can help you curb your drinking habit. You will naturally look for healthy food and drinks to properly fuel your body.


6. It develops physical appearance.

Does physical appearance matter?


A study atHarvard University found that offers  made by physically attractive entrepreneurs were 36% more likely to get the funding from investors. This is very important knowing that you will have to pitch your music to record companies, managers, or promoters, who are basically investors. So, you will improve your chances of getting approved if you can work on your physical appearance.  


Exercise corrects your posture and makes you look taller and broad-shouldered. Facial exercise also improves your looks and makes you look younger. The sweating can give the same glow and cleansing effect like a facial treatment. Better sleep quality and mental health will also help you look fresh and young. And it is not just about the looks. Exercise has shown to improve testosterone level in men and physiological arousal in women.


7. It increases  energy to improve stage presence.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of stage presence. You need to engage your audience and music alone is usually not enough. Watch videos of artists like Bon Jovi, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, or Bruce Springsteen, and see how they were able to capture the crowd. It takes a lot of energy to move across the stage and do stuff like head banging, stage diving, or crowd surfing.


Exercise is the best way to boost your energy levels. In a controlled trial, participants reported beneficial effects in boosting energy after just 6 months of low to moderate exercise. It is much better than caffeine or energy drinks. Another study found a 65% decrease in fatigue and 20% increase in energy level after exercise.


These are not the only benefits. A healthy voice needs a healthy mind and a healthy body. It is a long struggle and you will have to outlast it. Exercise will keep you in good shape, mentally, physically, and emotionally, and that’s what really matters.

Bio: Sadi Khan is a music nerd and fitness research analyst at



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