Picture this …

A friend calls.  There’s a concert / wedding / gig / rehearsal later and they’re short of a player / singer / conductor.  It’ll pay expenses / beer / nothing, but it’s a good group and what else would you be doing with your time?  Before you know it, you’ve signed up to another late evening of sitting / standing still, eating on the go at unsociable hours, and cutting in to your beauty sleep.

Sound familiar?

You’re not alone.  The passion that musicians have for their craft is huge and often overrides other priorities, including self-care.   Whilst there are positives, our survey of 122 musicians found the top 5 downsides were:

Stress and anxiety from performing

5. Stress & anxiety

Whilst most musicians found music making alleviated stress and anxiety, many found performing and fearing criticism triggered feelings of stress and anxiety.
Posture and flexibility

4. Posture & flexibility

Sitting or standing for long periods of time does nothing to help the posture or flexibility of musicians.  And that’s before they hold instruments in less than ideal positions.
Bodyweight and shape

3. Bodyweight & shape

Musicians spend a lot of time being relatively inactive.  This goes right back to school years where their friends would be running around playground or making up games on the sports field.  On average, the respondents to Thrive’s survey had been involved in music making for 30 years.  It’s no wonder bodyweight and shape was voted the third largest health and fitness issue musicians have.

2. Hearing

Losing your hearing, even partially, is no joke and can be irreversible.  With very few legal protections for amateur musicians, almost half of respondents reported hearing loss as an issue.
Muscle pain and tingling

1. Muscle pain & tingling

Over half of musicians reported their number one health and fitness issue as either muscle pain or tingling from playing.  This could be repetitive strain injury, carpel tunnel syndrome or, as in my case, supporting the weight of my oboe on the inside of one thumb for long periods.

On the flip side, the benefits of being a musician are massive.  Not only do we get to play in magnificent venues and entertain countless people, our own health and fitness improves due to fewer symptoms of depression, an increased ability to manage stress and anxiety, improvements in breathing and lung function and greater stamina and endurance.

But the number one health and fitness benefit was in mental alertness.  Musicians report having better long term memory, reaction times, processing speeds and spatial reasoning.

The top 10 health and fitness issues facing musicians today

Are you a musician who wants control of your health and fitness?
Get started with over 50 strategies designed for musicians!


Designed by a musician for musicians, “How to thrive in music” is a 28 day interactive programme providing you with over 50 nutrition, exercise and lifestyle strategies addressing the health and fitness issues facing musicians today.

Through a series of emails, videos, articles and questionnaires, you will:

  • Learn how to eat better for your musician’s lifestyle and personal weight goals (be that lose, gain or maintain weight).

  • Receive and practice techniques to reduce the negative side of stress in your life, without limiting the buzz from performing live.

  • Be challenged to try new exercise, resting and sleep habits to counter the negative side of being a musician.

  • Master the skills necessary to be prepared for eating on the go, exercising out off a routine and minimising the impact of social drinking.

28 day How to Thrive in Music programme


  • 28 day interactive programme
    Daily emails (no more than 5 minutes to read)
    Over 50 strategies to improve your health and fitness
    Additional materials for when you have more time

Meet Ian: personal trainer, nutrition coach and musician

I’ve been involved in music since picking up a recorder in the early 1970s.  I can still remember my first lesson when at the age of 5 the class learned one note, B, and spent the whole lesson playing (or over-blowing) B to different rhythms.  When I was 10, I was let loose on a violin but that was short lived as I broke a string every time I played it – too expensive according to my parents.

They must have been mightily impressed when I came home from senior school a couple of years later with an oboe (and the ease at which reeds can break).  In the days of schools having instrument cupboards, I went to the head of music asking to play the clarinet.  He said they didn’t have any, but “… I have one of these and it looks the same”.

Almost 40 years later and I’m still playing.  I’m principal oboist in a symphony orchestra and have played in a wind quintet with friends for 25 years.  I still play with people I met in youth bands 35 years ago, such is the power of music to create longstanding friendships.

The orchestra rehearses once a month over a residential weekend so I get to experience first hand the challenges musicians have with eating on the go, exercising and finding time to relax.  I also have a 4 hour round trip to play in the quintet, but I’m a musician – that’s just what we do.

As a personal trainer, I know it’s possible to participate in music making and still keep fit and healthy.  It just takes a little planning and effort to move from survive to thrive.

Ian Locke oboist

5 decisions musicians make which hit their health and fitness

Eating on the go

Foregoing time on other interests

Giving up their down time

Not leaving time for exercise

Skipping meals

Learn how to make better decisions on the 28 day programme!