Music and heart health
What's your "cheerful" song? The question appeared in a recent text thread amongst some of my old friends. It spurred the list of songs from the '70s and' 80s, back when we were in high school and college. But did you know that music can actually help improve your health and your mood? Music and heart health
Music involves not only your hearing system but many other parts of your brain as well, including areas responsible for movement, language, attention, memory, and emotions . "There are no other stimuli on earth that simultaneously engage our brains as wide as the music," said Brian Harris, a certified neurological music therapist at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. This global activation occurs whether you listen to music, play a musical instrument, or sing - even informally in a car or shower, he says. Music and heart health
Make my heart sing
Music can also change your brain chemistry, and these changes can produce cardiovascular benefits, as evidenced by a number of different studies. For example, studies have found that listening to music can
- allow people to exercise longer during a heart stress test performed on a treadmill or stationary bike
- improves blood vessel function by expanding arteries
- helping heart rate and blood pressure level to return to baseline faster after physical activity
- reduces anxiety in heart attack victims
- helps people recover from heart surgery to experience less pain and anxiet
Music and heart health
Like other pleasurable sensations, listening or creating music triggers the release of dopamine, a brain chemical that makes people feel engaged and motivated. As Harris pointed out, "A workout class without music is unimaginable." Sound processing begins in the brainstem, which also controls your heart rate and breathing rate. This relationship can explain why relaxing music can lower heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure - and also seems to relieve pain, stress, and anxiety. Music and heart health
What music suits you best?
But preference is very important. Research shows that the music chosen by the patient shows a more favorable effect than the music chosen by others, which makes sense. According to the American Music Therapy Association music "provoked responses because of the familiarity, predictability, and the security feelings associated with it."
In a heart stress test study (conducted at Texas universities), mostly Hispanic participants, so the researchers chose high tempo music, Latin-inspired music. In the study of arterial relaxation, which tests classical music and rock, improvements are greater when classical fans listen to classical music than when they listen to rock music, and vice versa. Someone who loves opera may find a very calming aria. "But frankly, if you do not care for opera, it could have the opposite effect!" Harris said. Music and heart health
There is no disadvantage to using music either to relax or to refresh your workout routine, provided you keep the decibel level in safe range . You may even consider using your heart health as an excuse to splurge on a new sound system.
Music and heart healthCategory: Health