As with any activity thought to improve health, researchers are trying to identify the specific characteristics of volunteering that provide the greatest benefit. For example, how much time would you need to put into volunteer work to lower your blood pressure or live longer? In the Carnegie Mellon study, 200 hours of volunteering per year correlated to lower blood pressure. Other studies have found a health benefit from as little as 100 hours of volunteering a year. Which types of volunteer activities improve health the most? No one really knows. Sneed speculates that mentally stimulating activities, like tutoring or reading, might be helpful for maintaining memory and thinking skills, while “activities that promote physical activity would be helpful with respect to cardiovascular health, but no studies have really explored this.”
Unfortunately, music can also cause some serious harm in the form of tinnitus or other permanent hearing loss/damage. Tinnitus can result from listening to music at high volumes or amplitudes. Tinnitus is a buzzing in the ears that ranges from slight to severe. Tinnitus is a highly subjective condition; some patients claim to perceive sounds of animals or even popular songs. Music has also been known to cause epileptic seizures, often resulting in psychiatric complications. In a book devoted to the studying of these rare cases, Oliver Sacks, a professor of clinical neurology at Columbia University, writes of a woman who could not listen to a certain popular song for more than half a minute without succumbing to violent convulsions.