music

Why live music?

I previously wrote about how important music is to me (see here), and my last entry highlighted some of the benefits of live music vs recorded, but I haven’t actually addressed the full ‘why’. Why live music?

Well firstly you just have to look at the cost of any live concert – to see some of the most popular artists live can cost a small fortune. And why do we pay? Because we know how many hours that artist has put in to be able to share their passion with others? Because we truly value their time? Or is a large part of it actually for selfish reasons – we love the way experiencing live music makes us feel. I’ve no doubt there’s an element of both, but unless we’re musicians ourselves we often forget the sweat and tears a musician experiences daily in order to perfect their craft. All we see is the final product and we absolutely love it. It’s a feeling we don’t often get to feel.

But what if on a smaller scale we could get this feeling more often? Take live concerts back to their purest routes – simply a musician/s playing right in front of us, sharing their passion, and even better, we could keep ourselves fit and active at the same time.

Which brings me onto fitness. I’d challenge anyone to name somebody who hasn’t used music when exercising – music is motivating, distracting and has so many positive effects. But how many people can say they have exercised to live music? Dancing yes, and this is of course a form of exercise (likewise is jumping up and down at a concert). But really working out to live music?

I know it has been done (in particular with Yoga), and it’s a trend I’m seeing more of, but with Refuel the live music isn’t simply an add on. The workouts are designed together with the music programme, so music and movement unite for an even greater effect on body and mind, with increased motivation, increased distraction and enhanced positive effects. Add to this the ability of the musician to adapt – together with the trainer – in response to the participants and the current mood (as is also the case with live music concerts), Refuel becomes a unique experience every time.

I’m going to finish off with some more facts, as it’s always good to have further back up!

  • Research from the Royal Albert Hall found that 69% of UK adults are ‘happier’ and ‘more stimulated’ when listening to live music. Of those surveyed, 68% considered themselves ‘more engaged’ and 59% thought they were ‘more sociable’ when live music is playing. Source here.
  • Recorded music will always be a substitute for live. This article here is a brilliant summary of live vs recorded music, written by a professional performer and journalist: Source here.
  • An IRB (Institutional Review Board)-approved study by UCLA found that students’ ratings of stress were significantly lower after exposure to live music. Source here.
  • Participants of Refuel have said they actually ‘feel’ the music, not just hear it. Feedback has included ‘what makes it different and extra special is the live music, it adapts to the tempo of the movements and the sound can be really felt (not just heard).’ ‘A total new approach to body exercise, taking the rhythm and instrument resonances of live musicians playing into a great exercise program, creating a completely individual flow.’ Further testimonials can be found here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Refuel
body and mind

What exactly is meant by ‘body and mind’?

Refuel live music with fitness for body and mind – what do we mean by body and mind? How can we legitimately say it’s for body and mind, and not just body or not just mind?

I could try and describe this in many words but I think it’s far easier to present the facts, as per a variety of studies/findings from various sources. So below you can find a summary of some of these findings. And finally, at the end of the article I have included the ‘whys’ – why Refuel?

Effects of music on the mind:

  • Studies suggest that music may promote the brain’s plasticity, its ability to make new connections between nerve cells. Sixty patients were enrolled in a study soon after they were hospitalised for major strokes. All received standard stroke care; in addition, a third of the patients were randomly assigned to listen to recorded music for at least one hour a day, another third listened to audiobooks, and the final group did not receive auditory stimulation. After three months, verbal memory improved 60% in the music listeners, as compared with 18% in the audiobook group and 29% in the patients who did not receive auditory stimulation. In addition, the music listeners’ ability to perform and control mental operations — a skill called focused attention — improved by 17%, while the other patients did not improve at all.
  • Music activates many regions of the brain, including auditory, motor and limbic (associated with emotions).
  • Music has the power to enhance some kinds of higher brain function:
    • Reading and literacy skills;
    • Spatial-temporal reasoning;
    • Mathematical abilities – even children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder benefit in mathematics tests from listening to music beforehand;
    • Emotional intelligence;
    • Recall of autobiographical and episodic information.
  • Baroque and Mozart’s music, with a 60 beats per minute beat pattern, activates the left and right parts of the brain. The simultaneous left and right brain action maximises learning and retention of information. The information being studied activates the left brain while the music activates the right brain. Also, activities which engage both sides of the brain at the same time, such as playing an instrument or singing, cause the brain to be more capable of processing information.
  • Listening to music facilitates the recall of information. Researchers have shown that certain types of music are great “keys” for recalling memories. Information learned while listening to a particular song can often be recalled simply by “playing” the songs mentally. For learning and memory performance improvement, it’s important listen to music without a vocal component. Otherwise you’re more likely to remember the words of the background song than what you’re supposed to be recalling.
  • Music that is easy to listen to, or relaxing classics, improves the duration and intensity of concentration in all age groups and ability levels. It’s not clear what type of music is better, or what kind of musical structure produces the best results, but many studies have shown significant effects.

Sources/More info: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/music-and-health, http://www.emedexpert.com/tips/music.shtml

Effects of music on the body:

  • A study from New York examined how music affects surgical patients. Forty cataract patients with an average age of 74 volunteered for the trial. Half were randomly assigned to receive ordinary care; the others got the same care but also listened to music of their choice through headphones before, during, and immediately after the operations. The average blood pressure in both groups rose to 159/92 just before surgery, and in both groups, the average heart rate jumped by 17 beats per minute. But the patients surrounded by silence remained hypertensive throughout the operation, while the pressures of those who listened to music came down rapidly and stayed down into the recovery room, where the average reduction was an impressive 35 mm Hg systolic (the top number) and 24 mm Hg diastolic (the bottom number).
  • A study of 10 critically ill postoperative patients reported that music can reduce the stress response even when patients are not conscious. All the patients were receiving the powerful intravenous sedative propofol, so they could be maintained on breathing machines in the intensive care unit (ICU). Half the patients were randomly assigned to wear headphones that played slow movements from Mozart piano sonatas, while the other half wore headphones that did not play music. Nurses who didn’t know which patients were hearing music reported that those who heard music required significantly less propofol to maintain deep sedation than those patients wearing silent headphones. The music recipients also had lower blood pressures and heart rates as well as lower blood levels of the stress hormone adrenaline and the inflammation-promoting cytokine interleukin-6.
  • A 2006 study of 60 adults with chronic pain found that music was able to reduce pain, depression, and disability. And a 2009 meta-analysis found that music-assisted relaxation can improve the quality of sleep in patients with sleep disorders.
  • In a 2011 study, the subjects were 134 men and women, 65 and older, who were at risk of falling but who were free of major neurologic and orthopaedic problems that would limit walking. Half the volunteers were randomly assigned to a program that trained them to walk and perform various movements in time to music, while the other people continued their usual activities. At the end of six months, the “dancers” exhibited better gait and balance than their peers — and they also experienced 54% fewer falls. Similar programs of movement to music appear to improve the mobility of patients with Parkinson’s disease.
  • A study from Wisconsin evaluated 45 patients who had suffered heart attacks within the previous 72 hours. All the patients were still in an intensive care unit but were clinically stable. The subjects were randomly assigned to listen to classical music or simply continue with routine care. All were closely monitored during the 20-minute trial. Almost as soon as the music began, the patients who were listening showed a drop in their heart rates, breathing rates, and their hearts’ oxygen demands. Music had no effect on their blood pressure; however, nearly all heart attack patients are given beta blockers and ACE inhibitors, both of which lower blood pressure on their own. The cardiovascular improvements linked to music lasted for at least an hour after the music stopped, and psychological testing also demonstrated lower levels of anxiety.
  • Music has a distinct effect on many biological processes. It inhibits the occurrence of fatigue, as well as changes the pulse and respiration rates, external blood pressure levels, and psychogalvanic effect.
  • Music reduces muscle tension and improves body movement and coordination.
  • Music can help to reduce pain, chronic actually, resulting from several conditions, like osteoarthritis, disc problems or rheumatoid arthritis, by up to 21%.
  • Music therapy is increasingly used in hospitals to reduce the need for medication during childbirth, or to decrease postoperative pain and complement the use of anaesthesia during surgery.
  • There are several theories about how music positively affects perceived pain:
    • Music produces revulsive effect;
    • Music may give the patient a sense of control;
    • It causes the body to release endorphins to counteract pain;
    • Slow music relaxes by slowing breathing and heartbeat;
  • By listening to the recordings of relaxing music every morning and evening, people with high blood pressure can train themselves to lower their blood pressure – and keep it low. This claim is supported by American Society of Hypertension. They reported that listening daily to just 30 minutes of some music genres like classical music may noticeably lower high blood pressure.
  • Music is good for your heart also. In this case, benefits come not from music style, but it’s tempo. Italian and British researchers recruited young men and women, half of whom were trained musicians. The participants listened to six styles of music in headphones, including rap and classical pieces, with random two-minute pauses. As the participants listened to the music, the researchers monitored their breathing, heart rates and blood pressure. Heart and breathing rates were faster when they listened to lively music. And when the musical slowed, so did their heart and breathing rates. Some results were surprising. During the musical pauses, heart and breathing rates normalized or reached more optimal levels. Whether or not a person liked the style of music did not matter. The tempo, or pace, of the music had the greatest effect on relaxation.
  • Music can help people who suffer from migraines and chronic headaches to reduce the intensity, frequency, and duration of the headaches.
  • Music can boost the immune function. Scientists explain that a particular type of music can create a positive and profound emotional experience, which leads to secretion of immune-boosting hormones. This helps contribute to a reduction in the factors responsible for illness. Listening to music or singing can also decrease levels of stress-related hormone cortisol. And this is significant, because higher levels of cortisol can lead to a decreased immune response.
  • Music therapy in an early stage of tinnitus can prevent development of a chronic form of tinnitus.
  • Listening to music during such an important event as a childbirth may also have its benefits. Not only it may increase the satisfaction with childbirth, but it also decreases post-natal anxiety and pain and reduces chances of experiencing postpartum depression.
  • A 2014 study revealed that listening to Mozart K 448 (Sonata for Two Pianos in D major) helps children suffering from epilepsy. The antiepileptic effect of Mozart’s sonata has been earlier demonstrated by Taiwanese scientists

Sources/More info: Meyer, 1956, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/music-and-health, http://www.emedexpert.com/tips/music.shtml

Effect of live vs recorded music on the mind:

  • Several studies have shown that students who heard live music developed more positive attitudes than those who heard recorded music.
  • A performing (music) therapist was able to evoke greater attitude change from psychiatric patients than a non-performing therapist who played recordings.
  • A recent study specifically compared the effects of live versus recorded music on the emotional and physical states of hospitalized cancer patients. The results indicated significant differences between the two groups on two factors; tension/anxiety and vigour. The taped music group reported significantly more post- music tension while the live music group reported significantly more post-music vigour. Four factors of the Bailey study, anger- hostility, fatigue, depression-dejection, and confusion, did not change significantly between recorded and live music. During a post-music rating, however, clients in the live music group reported a decrease across all four factors.
  • For a recent study, investigators used 117 volunteers from concert performances showcasing the music of composer Eric Whitacre. The volunteers were a representative sample: some were avid concert-goers, attending more than 100 concerts per year, others were visiting a concert for the first time in more than 6 months; some of the participants were musicians with decades of experience, others were not musical at all. Over the course of two separate concerts (of the same music and duration), the researchers took saliva samples from the participants before the performance and then 60 minutes later, during the interval. Across the board, the team found a drop in glucocorticoids, including significant reductions in cortisol and cortisone. DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) showed no significant changes across the whole group, but, when split into gender, DHEA levels dipped slightly in women and rose in men. Also, there was a small but non-significant drop in progesterone, but no changes noted in testosterone. The authors write: “This is the first preliminary evidence that attending a cultural event can have an impact on endocrine activity.”
  • Results unique to a study (International Journal of Music and Performing Arts, Effects of Live Music in Oncology Waiting Rooms: Two Mixed Methods Pilot Studies Michael J. Silverman1 . June 2015, Vol. 3) included that live music can be used to increase patients’ sense of community, increase and improve interactions, and provide a welcome distraction from thoughts surrounding the purpose of their visit.

Sources/More info: Bailey, 1983; Hooper & Powell, 1970; Vaughan, 1983, Wheeler, 1985,
http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2641&context=honors_theses, http://ijmpa.com/vol-3-no-1-june-2015-abstract-1-ijmpa,
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/308902.php

Effects of exercise on the mind:

  • When you exercise, your brain chemistry changes through the release of endorphins (sometimes called ‘feel good’ hormones), which can calm anxiety and lift your mood.
  • You may experience reductions in feelings of stress and tension as your body is better able to control cortisol levels.
  • Some people find that exercise helps to break up racing thoughts. As your body tires so does your mind, leaving you calmer and better able to think clearly.
  • Simply taking time out to exercise can give you space to think things over and help your mind feel calmer.
  • When you start to see your fitness levels increase and your body improve, it can give your self-esteema big boost. The sense of achievement you get from learning new skills and achieving your goals can also help you feel better about yourself and lift your mood. Improved self-esteem also has a protective effect that increases life satisfaction and can make you more resilient to feeling stressed.
  • If you’re more active there’s good evidence to suggest that at most ages, for both men and women, there’s a trend towards lower rates of depression. In fact one study has found that by increasing your activity levels from doing nothing to exercising at least three times a week, you can reduce your risk of depression by almost 20%.
  • Being around other people is good for our mental health and social networks – plus you can maximise the benefits of exercising by doing it with other people. You may find that the social benefits are just as important as the physical ones.
  • Lots of us enjoy being active because it’s fun. Researchers have shown that there’s a link between the things we enjoy doing and improvements in our wellbeing overall. If you enjoy an activity you’re also more likely to keep doing it.
  • Some people find that joining a sport programme helps reduce the stigma attached to their mental health problem. Getting involved in local projects with other people who share a common interest can be a great way to break down barriers and challenge discrimination.
  • The brain is a complex structure. More parts of the brain “light up,” or are used, when a person is moving or physically active. Exercise leads to:
    • Improved Brain Function (Medina 2008);
    • Enhanced Cognition (Etnier 1997);
    • Improved Memory;
    • Reduced Stress;
    • Balanced Mood and Behaviour;
    • Improved Social Skills and Behaviour;
    • Improved Academic Performance (Dwyer et al. 2001).
  • Exercise creates the optimal environment for neural plasticity, the ability of the brain to change. Exercise puts the brain and body into balance naturally by regulating brain chemicals that control mood and responses to stress. The healthier and more physically fit the body is, the more efficiently the brain functions. This is because exercise changes the brain at a molecular level by:
    • Growing new brain cells, a process called neurogenesis;
    • Producing BDNF (brain-derived neurotropic factor), nicknamed the fertilizer for the brain;
    • Strengthening secondary dendritic branching that increases memory retrieval;
    • And improving mood by balancing the neurotransmitters endorphins, dopamine, cortisol, and serotonin.

Sources/More info: Learning Through Movement and Music by GeoMotion Group Inc
Mind mental health charity, https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/physical-activity-sport-and-exercise/health-benefits/#.WlyQOSOcbEY

Effects of exercise on the body (There are so many! Below by no means incorporates all):

  • Improves muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness.
  • Improves bone health.
  • Reduces risk of high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers.
  • Helps manage weight and reduces risk of becoming obese.
  • Reduced risk of some diseases. For example, health experts suggest that being more active can reduce your risk of developing a stroke or heart disease by 10%, and type 2 diabetes by 30–40%.
  • Reduced risk of physical health problems as our bodies adapt to stress. As we become fitter, our bodies can better regulate our cortisol levels. Cortisol is a ‘stress hormone’ that our bodies release in response to anxiety; over prolonged periods, higher cortisol levels have been linked to a wide range of health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, a lowered immune response, as well as depression and anxiety.
  • When you’re active your body is working more, which is good for your organs. For example, a stronger heart will help you have lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure.
  • Weight-bearing exercises will strengthen your bones and build your muscle, which can reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis.
  • If you’re overweight, becoming more active can help you start to reduce body fat as your stamina and fitness levels improve.
  • As your body adapts to increased activity levels you get a natural energy boost, which can make you feel less tired. Researchers say that even low intensity levels of activity can be beneficial if you usually feel very fatigued.
  • Many people find they are able to sleep better at night after having been more active during the day.

Sources/More info: Bupa, Mind Mental Health Charity, https://www.bupa.co.uk/health-information/directory/b/benefits-of-exercise,
https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/physical-activity-sport-and-exercise/health-benefits/#.WlyQOSOcbEY

WHY REFUEL?

Refuel is:

  • Not for either the body or the mind in isolation but designed for both;
  • For people who are short on time;
  • For people who aren’t keen on the idea of meditation in its purest form;
  • For people who are looking for a new way to exercise;
  • For people who don’t like to exercise in the spotlight;
  • For people who enjoy experiencing new music played live by talented musicians;
  • Designed to achieve a stronger mind and body for improved, health, wellbeing and quality of life.

Sign up to our next Refuel session to start enjoying the benefits: https://refuel.life/venues-and-booking/

body and mind

Refuel partnership with Holmes Place Potsdamer Platz

I am so excited to announce that from January, Refuel will be available at Holmes Place Potsdamer Platz, for non-members as well as members (see Venues and Booking page for details of dates and times).

I’m particularly excited about this as there is a real synergy between my ambition for Refuel and Holmes Place’s ambition, which at the heart of it all is ‘One life. Live it well.’

Holmes Place isn’t only a gym, but also offers a variety of ways for people to take care of both their body and mind. Wellness treatments, healthy eating and relaxation combine with a fitness studio and innovative group exercise classes, which from January will include Refuel!

I’ve received such great feedback from the Refuel sessions we’ve run so far (see Testimonials page or visit the Refuel Proven Expert Profile), I can’t wait for more people to take part and enjoy the benefits. Holding regular sessions at Potsdamer Platz Holmes Place will allow both members and non-members to do this – and if you’re a member there’s even the added bonus of a reduced fee to join (ask in club for details).

We really do only have one life and there’s no reason why we should deprive ourselves from living it well! We need to slow down, to put as much dedication and effort into our health – and into that which makes us feel good – as we do into our work.

So please do take the time out to come along to Refuel in January, even if you’re not a member of Holmes Place. Taking time out to hear talented musicians play live will already benefit the mind – exercising to their music with like-minded people will benefit both body and mind in a brand new way. I hope to see you in January!

In order to book a place, visit our Venues and Booking page.

For more information on Holmes Place Potsdamer Platz, visit: http://holmesplace.de/potsdamer-platz.c/en/

 

 

body and mind

Reconnecting body and mind

For several years now ‘fitness’ has largely been concentrated on the body as opposed to the mind, being used as a tool to lose weight, to build muscle or to achieve a physical goal such as running a 10Km. Thank goodness that this is now changing. With the rise in mental health awareness, the link between the body and mind is finally starting to be taken more seriously, and fitness is no longer just about the body but about maintaining a healthy mind too.

What should come first, a healthy mind or healthy body? I believe this is an impossible question, as actually they are so closely connected I feel confident in saying that it’s impossible to have one without the other. Your mind is part of your body, and your body is part of your mind – how many times have you felt euphoric in mind after completing a long run or a hard workout? How often have you suffered a crippling headache when something has been seriously troubling you? There are many examples I could give but the point is we need to be paying attention to, and taking care of, our bodies and minds in synergy.

This isn’t always easy to do, and there’s not one method which is a magic key to achieve optimal physical and mental health, however thankfully the options are starting to increase in terms of methods for improving the fitness of both the body and the mind (Refuel of course being one of these!).

What is vitally important is enjoyment. Because fitness has been so focused on the body this has often led to a lack of enjoyment, as we struggle to meet body goals with limited time, which in turn has led to frustrated and unhappy minds. Meditation can be a great healer of the mind, but what if you’re someone who loves and needs the physical exertion, which sitting quietly, and even yoga on its own, doesn’t provide?

Enjoyment over the long term therefore needs to be considered, not just the short term – you may enjoy pushing yourself to the limit five days a week but at some point, the stress you are putting yourself through may lead to negative consequences on the body and mind. Balance is needed. A balance between exertion and relaxation, a balance between fast and slow pace, a balance between the work the mind and the body are carrying out.

Each Refuel session looks to provide this balance – encouraging mindful exercise, utilising not just one but a number of fitness techniques, and allowing people to experience and discover music – which has been proven to have a number of positive effects on both body and mind – in its purest form.

Let’s no longer think of body and mind as separate, but as interconnecting parts of ourselves which need taking care of together, for us to enjoy our lives and thrive.

music

Thank you for the music

Since embarking on Refuel, I have been lucky enough to start meeting amazingly talented musicians. Music has always been so important to me, but it’s something I often find myself not dedicating nearly enough time to. Music is the one thing that can always drive me to tears – there’s something about it that resonates deep within, something which I can’t even explain myself but there’s an emotion that emerges which I really can’t control.

Launching Refuel hasn’t been easy, and it’s going to be a long haul to get people to love it as much as I do, but every time I’m lacking motivation I listen to my favourite music, and I remember again how much of an effect it can have on the mind and emotions, and I know through Refuel I can bring that kind of emotion to other people too.

Musicians dedicate everything they have to their craft – I can’t even express how much I admire them for how much time and hard work they put in, to bring something truly beautiful to other people.

Although some people may at first see Refuel as another fitness craze, this really isn’t what I intended it to be. Refuel is many things, and I find it difficult myself to describe it just in one sentence – that’s why body and mind seemed the best choice if I must give a summary. Yes, the body is being trained, but at the same time Refuel is a platform for people to reconnect with how powerful music can be, and how we often forget exactly how much work and dedication is put into that music that we so often ‘ignorantly’ hear during our day to day lives.

In conclusion, I’d like to say thank you so much to the musicians I’ve been working with so far, and to those I’ll hopefully be working with in the future! Here’s a link to a piece which I absolutely love listening to when I need inspiration and motivation: https://youtu.be/mJ_fkw5j-t0

Updates

Launch of Weekly Refuel Sessions!

One of the main pieces of feedback I’ve had from the Refuel sessions so far is “I wish the sessions were more often”. Obviously amazing feedback to have and I’m very excited to be able to announce that from November they will be! Weekly Refuel sessions will run throughout November, every Wednesday evening, 18:45-19:45 at Kapelle am Urban in Kreuzberg.

The room at Kapelle am Urban is a former chapel that belonged to the hospital which used to be on the site – the room has so much character, with beautiful architecture; I could see straight away that it would be a great fit for Refuel.

Places for the Refuel sessions can now be purchased on the site, so that not only is it easier to reserve a place, but there’s also no longer a need to remember to bring cash on the day (just an exercise mat).

I’m really looking forward to welcoming so many more people to Refuel and to experience it more often myself – my body and mind most definitely feel clearer, stronger and more connected afterwards. Hope to see you in November!

To reserve a place at Refuel visit our Venues and Booking page.

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Eines der wichtigsten Feedbacks, die ich bisher von den Refuel-Sitzungen hatte, ist “Ich wünschte, die Sitzungen wären öfter”. Unglaubliches Feedback zu haben, und ich freue mich sehr zu verkünden, dass ab November werden es so sein! Wöchentliche Refuel-Sitzungen finden im November, jeden Mittwochabend, 18:45-19:45 in der Kapelle am Urban in Kreuzberg statt.

Der Raum in Kapelle am Urban ist eine ehemalige Kapelle, die zu dem Krankenhaus gehörte, das früher auf dem Gelände war – der Raum hat so viel Charakter, mit schöner Architektur; Ich konnte sofort sehen, dass es gut zu Refuel passen würde.

Plätze für die Refuel-Sitzungen können jetzt auf der Website gekauft werden, so dass nicht nur Plätze einfach reserviert werden können, sondern dass man nicht mehr daran denken muss, Bargeld am Tag mitzubringen (muss nur noch eine Übungsmatte mitbringen).

Ich freue mich sehr darauf, viele mehr Menschen bei Refuel willkommen zu dürfen, und auch Refuel öfter mich selbst zu erleben – mein Körper und Geist fühlen sich auf jeden Fall klarer und stärker nachher. Ich freue mich auf Ihnen im November zu sehen!

Um einen Platz bei Refuel zu reservieren, besuchen Sie unsere Venues and Booking Seite.