Drumming – Just What the Doctor Ordered

Brain waves

Imagine discovering something that relieves stress, reduces pain, lowers blood pressure, decreases anxiety, boosts immunity, builds the brain, releases endorphins, and burns calories. In addition to that, it doesn’t require a prescription, is suitable for all ages, costs only what you wish to pay, and there are no known side effects. Would you be interested?

If so, you may wish to explore the world of therapeutic drumming. In recent years, several studies have shown that drumming can yield a long list of health benefits - and, better yet, it’s fun!

The Benefits

Drum circle at Miami University

Top on the list are drumming’s stress-relieving properties. You can quite literally pound your worries away, and even boost white blood cell count while you are at it! Researchers have found that group drumming can lead not only to a decrease in cortisol (known as the “stress hormone”) but also to an increase in natural killer cells (which destroy pathogens and cancer cells).

Group music-making also contributes to the release of endorphins. These endorphins simultaneously help to increase the pain threshold (so you no longer notice your aches and pains), as well as create a feeling of deep relaxation, well-being, and social connection.

Furthermore, there is evidence that drumming is good for your brain. It has been shown to help synchronize the two hemispheres of the brain, as well as the lower areas of the brain within the frontal cortex. Another study found that ongoing rhythm exercises over a two month period increased white matter in the brain for ten Huntington’s Disease patients. Drumming has been shown to be an effective therapy for stroke recovery, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.

If this isn’t convincing enough, drumming also burns calories! The continuous movement provides a light form of cardio exercise that helps improve circulation, but is gentle enough for all ages to perform.

Finally, it’s a mood-enhancer. Drumming can increase feelings of connection and community among those who are participating. Not to mention, it can also reduce feelings of anxiety, depression, and isolation.

The Take-Away

In a nutshell, drumming is a powerful and accessible healing tool for body, mind and spirit. You don’t have to have any musical training - anyone can shake a maraca or tap a conga! Percussion instruments are easy to find at any music store or online, and need not be expensive. You can even make your own instruments from household items or play body percussion by clapping or stomping. Once you have the instruments, you can either gather a few friends, or visit a local drum circle - fun social gatherings that are typically free.

Why not give drumming a try? The costs are few, and the benefits are many. It appears that a drum jam a day keeps the doctor away!

Article written by Liz Wu. Photo courtesy of Liz Wu. 

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