Learn How Music Can Benefit Your Heart
Throw on a little Beethoven, U2, or the Beatles, then sit back, relax, and know that your blood vessels are benefiting from the great sounds washing over you!
Researchers have shown for the first time that the positive emotions evoked by music has a favorable effect on the lining (endothelium) of the heart.
Dr Miller the study author said, "Listening to music that makes you feel good may also be a good preventive measure for heart health...there's no downside. It's simple, economic, and it may pay off dividends in regard to a healthy heart."
What wonderful news for heart disease suffers! For once some advice that doesn't involve popping another pill, or removing this or that from your diet! And the best news is, there's no side effects!
The effect of stress
Dr Miller states, "We believe that the brain plays a pivotal role in vascular health...high cholesterol and high blood pressure are very important, but some individuals lacking these risk factors develop significant heart disease, and that may be partly related to their response to stress."
It has been known for some time that mental stress can cause vasoconstriction. This is the narrowing of the blood vessels, and blood flow becomes restricted or slowed as a result.
A while back, I discussed the beneficial effects of laughter on blood flow, and now it seems the positive emotions produced by music actually have a similar relaxing effect.
The study findings
Although the study was very small, the results are promising.
To determine the effect of music on endothelial function, participants selected 30 minutes of music they enjoyed. They were also asked to identify music that made them feel anxious. Musical selections differed according to each person, and they were also asked to view humorous video clips, and relaxation audiotapes.
The researchers found that compared with baseline, the subjects' blood flow:
- Increased 26% after listening to enjoyable music.
- Decreased 6% after listening to anxiety-provoking music.
- Increased 19% after watching a humorous video.
- Increased 11% after listening to a relaxation tape.
Interestingly, the increased blood flow noted when enjoyable music was selected, was the same as that previously observed with aerobic activity, or statin therapy.
Dr Miller states, "We think that the basis for this is due to endorphins or endorphin-like compounds released from the brain that have a direct effect on the vasculature. It comes back to that 'big black box' of mind-heart connection, which is so hard to quantify, but is an underdeveloped area that is worth further investigation."
At present, it's unclear whether listening to music will show long-term benefits similar to, or superior to, that of regular aerobic exercise. But regardless, this is one piece of evidence that can't do us any harm!
So, put on your favourite piece of music, relax, and benefit from the heart soothing effect of your favourite sounds!
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