Listening to music is good for your heart, and not just in figurative terms. Mounting research suggests that exposure to music, either listening to it or actively playing it, has positive effects on your heart health. Blood pressure, stress, and heart rate are all impacted in a positive way by music and as a result, music therapy is being prescribed by more and more health care providers.
If you are struggling with any heart-related health issues, take a look at why music could be one of the best medicines:
Music and heart rate
Soothing music can slow heart rate – both in the time it is being listened to and after it. At the Mayo Clinic, cardiac procedure patients are encouraged to listen to music before, during and after surgery in order to slow heart rate through stress reduction. Parents of babies in intensive care units are often asked to sing simple lullabies to their children because that rhythm has been proven to regulate respiration and heart rate. Music can benefit people who are not even facing any health obstacles, too. Researchers have concluded that relaxation occurs when music listeners are exposed to slower tempos. Heart rate is slowed and regulated at the time of the listening, and those effects remain after the music stops.
When it comes to playing instruments or singing, musicians undergo the same calming effects of music as their non-playing counterparts. The faster the tempo, the faster the heart rate of the player. Slower tempos tend to lend to relaxation. Studies have found fast tempo music leads to heart rates of 120 to 130 per minute, while slow tempos can reduce that to 50 to 60 beats per minute. Musicians who want to reach a relaxation point should delve into tunes of slower tempos, in any genre, to feel the full effects of regulated heart rate through music.
Music and blood pressure
The rhythm of music and positive emotions it incites can lower blood pressure. A Hong Kong study found that people who listened to relaxing music for 25 minutes per day for a month had lower systolic blood pressure by 12 points and lower diastolic blood pressure by 5 points. A group that was not exposed to the same musical conditions showed no improvement in blood pressure numbers.
Music therapy is often prescribed to those at risk of high blood pressure complications, like patients recovering from any kind of surgery. Blood pressure is regulated and doctors also emphasize the mental health perks of music following major procedures.
Music and stress reduction
The relaxing properties of listening to music aid in less anxiety and stress. The physical explanation for this is that endorphins are released when pleasure is experienced, like that associated with listening to music. Those endorphins help music listeners to relax and let go of items that are stressing them out. Even people with heart issues that are already established can benefit from the stress-reducing properties of music. A study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee found that survivors of heart attacks who listened to 20 minutes of music per day experienced less health-related stress than those who did not. These results are echoed in a study out of Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis where people recovering from cardiac arrest showed lower stress levels and even less perceived pain when they listened to music.
Music should never replace prescribed medication for any of the issues listed above, but it is certainly a simple way to improve your health. Whether you play it, or just enjoy listening to it, music has healing properties. Take advantage of the inexpensive and timeless way music boosts heart health to make the most of its positive effects.