Dr Michael Mosley says activity can have big impact on inflammation and mood

Dr Michael Mosley said playing a musical instrument could have a very beneficial impact on mental health, brain power and reduce inflammation
Dr Michael Mosley said playing a musical instrument could have a very beneficial impact on mental health, brain power and also reduce inflammation -Credit:BBC

Doctor Michael Mosley has spoken about an activity which can have an incredible impact on health including tackling depression, helping memory and reducing chronic inflammation. Dr Mosley who is known for his 5:2 and Fast 800 eating plans said that it was an unusual method of improving health - but the impact had been scientifically proven.

The health and wellbeing guru was speaking on his BBC Podcast about music - and said it was never too late to start trying to play. Dr Mosley said: “There is certainly good evidence that playing a musical instrument however badly can improve mental health. In a recent study, 45 men and women who were using mental health services were randomly assigned to either 90 minutes a week playing the drums or a control group.

“After 10 weeks, there was a significant fall in the drum players, levels of anxiety and depression and even more impressively, these effects were maintained for three months after the sessions finished.” Dr Mosley added that as well as helping the mood it could also directly impact on health: “Interestingly, many mental health conditions are now thought to be linked to levels of chronic inflammation in the body. So in this study, the researchers also measured markers of inflammation like interleukin four along with improvements in mood. These markers also improved but only in the drum players.”

Dr Sofia Seinfeld from the Open University in Catalonia appeared on the show and told Michael why it’s never too late to start making music, and how it can enhance your cognitive abilities by activating regions of the brain associated with motor coordination and the processing of emotions.

Dr Seinfeld said that in one study she carried out had 20 participants per group and we had people with a minimum age of 60 maximum age of 85 who had never played piano during their lifetime, but they were interested in learning to do so.

They had lessons and had to practice for 45 minutes a day and their results were compared to those painting, having computer lessons or sports. She said: “We took cognitive measures before the study and after the study in order to see what specific benefits music could have compared to leisure activities and both groups showed improvements in their cognitive functions. But musical training produced significantly higher improvements in executive functions, divided attention and in inventory control, these are skills that we normally require in our everyday life, for example, to plan our day or when we are cooking and we have to follow a recipe.

“The type of cognitive abilities that music enhances are cognitive functions that we also use in our everyday life activities. And also we also found that it improved the mood of the participants and their emotional state. “