It may be that “Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast”, but it also may reward musicians with longer lives and better hearing, depending on when and how long those musicians were engaged in music training. Northwestern University’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory has studied how music affects the human brain for some years, and released their latest study in late 2011.
Most of the research focuses on instrumentalists, but an elusive Harvard/Yale study found that vocalists benefit similarly, apparently even more so if they sing with a group.
One simple aspect that seems to have been mostly ignored is the cardiovascular exercise that accompanies musical efforts. This has been most noted in the case of conductors, but some instrumentalists like drummers and all members of marching bands get considerable exercise.
“Death in combat is understandable. Death during training should not be occurring.” The problem is drinking too much water in combination with having too little electrolytes. It is not clear how effective Gatorade and its ilk are. One alternative from the past is switchel, an old-fashioned drink used (mostly during haying season, the hottest time of summer) to prevent farmhands from over-hydrating. There are different recipes, but the one my grandmother recalled was a combination of water, vinegar, ginger, and honey (of course, coming from a family of beekeepers, the sweetener was honey) Its main purpose was to prevent illness from drinking too much water (called “water intoxication”); horses have to be prevented from the same thing. Part of the death/illness prevention came from the taste of the stuff; you had to be pretty thirsty to drink anything approaching too much.
America is blessed with amazing amounts and varieties of foodstuffs. Unfortunately, it is also cursed with the amazing amounts and varieties of both charlatans and well-meaning-but-naïve citizens who preach wide-of-the-mark eating habits and diets. And a lot of those charlatans are large food companies with whopping ad budgets.
We have had low-fat diets, low-carbohydrate diets (e.g., the Atkins Diet), a flock of diet systems (Weight Watchers et al), the Mediterranean Diet, and lots of others. The latest is the gluten-free diet, which has nicely been debunked by Sophie Egan. Ms. Egan makes the interesting point that Americans are judging their food based on what the foods lack rather than what they contain, which probably is a consequence of people’s being more concerned about dieting to lose weight than about eating sane amounts of nutritious food to stay healthy.
Most sports involve motion, strength, endurance, and other features that help keep us fit and healthy. And they take some level of commitment to initiate and continue. Most everyone would agree that this leads to a longer and healthier life. But you have to actually participate to get these benefits. Just watching doesn’t do it. In fact, the food and drink you consume while sitting and watching—either in front of your TV set or in a stadium or other venue–may actually shorten your life and make you less fit. (Another life-shortening activity is to waste time commenting on your favorite or least-favorite sports team after articles such as this. Better to turn off your PC or tablet or smartphone and do something active.) True, if you make the trek to watch in person, you may get some benefit from walking and climbing stairs, being jostled by other fans, etc. But you would be far better off by forgetting the watching and actually engaging in some sport. And never, never hire someone whose resume mainly features a hobby of sports fan.