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Playing violin for your health: Lifestyle changes work when you choose something you love

Playing violin for your health: Lifestyle changes work when you choose something you love

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Published by EvidenceNetwork.ca
Now that we’ve kicked off a new year, not a day passes without some news outlet asking me for tips on healthy living. What do I need to eat more (or less) of? What type of exercise is best and how many minutes a day do I need?

My answer generally comes down to asking a simple question in return: Would you really want to give up something you enjoy? Or, even less likely, do you really want to start doing something you don't?
Now that we’ve kicked off a new year, not a day passes without some news outlet asking me for tips on healthy living. What do I need to eat more (or less) of? What type of exercise is best and how many minutes a day do I need?

My answer generally comes down to asking a simple question in return: Would you really want to give up something you enjoy? Or, even less likely, do you really want to start doing something you don't?

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Published by: EvidenceNetwork.ca on Mar 07, 2013
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06/03/2013

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Playing violin for your health
Lifestyle changes work when you choose something you love
 by Arya M. Sharma
 Now that we’ve kicked off a
new year, not a day passeswithout some news outlet askingme for tips on healthy living.What do I need to eat more (or less) of? What type of exercise is best and how many minutes aday do I need?My answer generally comesdown to asking a simplequestion in return: Would youreally want to give up somethingyou enjoy? Or, even less likely, do you really want to start doing something you don't?Let us assume that there is now conclusive evidence that playing just 20 minutes of violina day substantially reduces your risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke,Alzheimer's and even male-pattern baldness.Based on these finding, Health Canada launches a major initiative proclaiming the benefits of violin playing for health.There is now a whole industry of personal violin trainers, and you can sign up for violinsessions at your local YMCA (which has thrown out the exercise machines to make moreroom for the violin enthusiasts). Magazines and bloggers opinionate on whether itmatters what music you play on your instrument and proffer expert advice on the bestinstruments and latest accessories.There is a lively debate on whether playing the fiddle or viola has the same health benefits as the violin. Can it, perhaps, be any string instrument played with a bow? Doesit matter whether the bow has real horsehair or the strings are catgut?Does it matter whether you play for expression or speed? Alone or with friends? Andwhy just 20 minutes? Wouldn't 40 minutes or perhaps even a couple of hours a day makeyou even healthier. How about signing up for a stringathon?At your next annual physical, your doctor asks, "And how many minutes of violin do youget in every day?" If you admit you don't, here's a copy of 
Canada's Violin Guide
 extolling the many health benefits of violin practice.
 
And once you play regularly, you may even experience the violinist's high. You will beon the perfect path to violin addiction!But now imagine that you happen to be someone who simply hates violin.You have no sense of tone or rhythm, the very thought of picking up the instrument (anyinstrument) makes you want to stay in bed. Perhaps memories of the hated violin teacher ruined it for you in grade school. Perhaps you were the one always picked last for theclass ensemble.The people who love their violin do not understand. Why are you choosing not to playwhen everything points to the benefits? And it is just 20 minutes, is that too much toexpect?Interestingly enough, it turns out that you are by no means in the minority. According tothe latest Canadian Community Health Survey, 95% of Canadians fail to achieve even theminimum 100 minutes of recommended weekly violin.It is not that most Canadians do not like the violin. They do love listening to andwatching violin concerts, they just don't like playing it themselves. In fact, over the pastyears several new violin channels have popped up on TV. There are now national andinternational violin competitions.And yet, most people will simply refuse to pick up the violin. This, despite the tax creditsoffered to violin players. Do we really have to discuss taxes and higher health premiumsfor non-players?Why are these people digging their own graves by simply refusing to pick up the violin?Don't these people get it?Well, they get it alright. They simply don't enjoy the violin -- no matter the health benefits.Violins aside, h
ere’s the
bottom line: If you want to improve your health this new year,make sure you take up something you love to do. If you choose something you despise,
you’ll only last a few
weeks at most. For healthy habits to stick, they have to be in placefor the long-term, regular 
 – 
and fun (or at least, not unpleasant).Choose small,
attainable goals, regular habits that you’ll enjoy completing. It might
mean a 20 minute daily walk or an increase in delicious whole foods over processedfoods. It might mean joining a team sport or making the time for more home cookedmeals.But it should always be something you enjoy doing, and something that you can probablystick with for a lifetime.

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