Like a bit of heavy metal? Good for you -- quite literally!
As you are about to find out, heavy metal has some fantastic benefits for your body and mind. But we should point out that the benefits of listening to heavy metal can also be said for other music genres you like.
But don't tell your non-metalhead friends that. It's our little secret!
Does listening to metal make you smarter?
Listening to any music can have some interesting cognitive effects on the brain. However, it is not clear whether or not heavy metal specifically will make you smarter over the long term.
Listening to any music you like has a suite of health benefits that, at the very least, will help keep your brain and mood in good order.
For example, "extreme" music genres, like heavy metal, appears to be great for reducing negative emotions and regulating anger and depression. Staving off these negative emotions will pay dividends for your brain's ability to function at peak performance.
Of course, overdoing the headbanging could have some negative effects too, so take-it-easy man!
Does heavy metal music cause depression?
Most studies on the subject seem to show the opposite. Rather than causing depression or making it worse, heavy metal can actually help reduce negative emotions.
What's more, it can also reduce the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body.
What are the health benefits of heavy metal?
So, without further ado, here are 7 interesting health benefits of listening to heavy metal. This list is not exhaustive, nor is it in any particular order.
1. It makes you feel that you're part of a community
First and foremost, though not specific to heavy metal per se, is that listening to it makes you feel that you're part of a community. By listening to your favorite bands, going to gigs and talking to your friends, being a fan of heavy metal helps you form common bonds with others.
The heavy metal scene is notorious for its fan base and the camaraderie metal fans have is second-to-none. Never underestimate the power of feeling part of something bigger than yourself.
Being part of a community and fostering a feeling of belonging is incredibly important for your self-esteem and mental health. In fact, according to another study, being isolated and alone has some very serious risks for your health.
2. It can make you read more
Linked to point 1 above, being a fan of anything like Heavy Metal usually promotes an interest in the subject. If you are really into the genre you will likely also be reading blogs, magazines and perhaps even books on the subject.
Anything that makes teenagers or young adults read is never a bad thing. Some heavy metal fans may even build a lucrative career in media out of the activity.
The act of reading will pay you dividends over the long run. Various scientific studies have also shown that reading can provide some major health benefits including increased life expectancy, improved empathy, and it can boost your creativity and flexibility.
3. Its is actually good for the brain
One interesting study has shown that listening to music you like, like Heavy Metal, can have incredible benefits for your cognitive abilities and memory. By comparing participants who listened to music they either liked or disliked, it found there were some interesting effects on the brain.
It found that by listening to music they didn't like, participants showed a marked reduction in their ability to rotate objects in their minds (spatial rotation).
Interestingly, however, listening to music (liked or disliked) also appeared to hamper short-term memory performance. Make of that what you will.
4. It makes you more likely to explore new things
Yet another study has shown that heavy metal fans, or people who preferred more intense and complex melodies, tend to be more open to new experiences.
Heavy metal fans, unsurprisingly, also showed a negative attitude towards authority. Who'd've guessed it?
However, the study did show that quite a few fans also appeared to show relatively lower self-esteem and a craving for uniqueness. They also appeared to have a lower religiosity - - which shouldn't come as a surprise given organized religion's inherent authoritarian nature.
5. It might make you less violent
Despite the common claim that music genres like heavy metal make fans more violent, research has shown the exact opposite. A recent study has shown that listening to heavy metal actually reduces an individual's sensitivity to violence.
The study also showed that long-term fans were generally happier in their youth and were better adjusted in middle age than non-metalheads.
Furthermore, another study also showed that heavy metal can help calm you down more rapidly after a triggering event. Study participants were made angry and then asked to listen to heavy metal.
This resulted in listeners showing a marked increase in positive emotions. The results suggest that "extreme" music could be used as an effective means to regulate negative emotions like anger.
6. It can make you more skeptical
We are cheating a little here, but being a heavy metal fan can make you more of a critical thinker. Linked to point 5 above, any negative claims about the genre tends to cause fans to react by doing some investigation of their own.
When the media, or other authorities, claim that heavy metal makes fans more violent or depressed, etc, fans can develop their investigative skills by exploring the claims.
This will develop scientific thinking, foster an understanding of logical fallacies, research design issues and gain an appreciation for biases.
Of course, like any close-knit community, it can have the opposite effect too. But the danger of living within a "bubble" of thought is not unique to metalheads.
It is something of an occupational hazard.
7. Heavy metal reduces stress and improves your overall well-being
And finally, listening to any kind of music you love has been shown to dramatically reduce stress levels. When we listen to our favorite tunes the levels of cortisol in our body are markedly reduced over time.
This is important because stress has been shown to be the cause of around 60% of most illnesses and diseases.
What's more, one study has shown that actively participating in making music can also boost your immune system even more than just listening to music.
So, as the (from this day on) famous saying goes "some metal a day keeps the doctor away!".