You know the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” right? Well, perhaps a new saying needs to be coined, “A tune a day could keep the heart doctor away.”
A study out of Italy took a look at whether or not music could reduce stress in participants and create changes in their cardiovascular and respiratory functioning. They looked at the difference experienced by the participants based on the tempo of the music, the individual’s personal taste, rhythm, musical training of the individual, melodic structure, and habituation. The researchers also measured the cardiovascular and respiratory changes in the individual while they were listening to different types of music.
There were 24 participants in the study, 12 of them were musicians, while the 12 participants the control group — who were all the same age, in their mid-20s, and same health as the musicians — had no formal musical training.
Each participant was given 20 minutes of rest before they were given a selection of music to listen to through individual headsets. There were six different musical styles, ranging from slow to fast, modern to classical. Between each type of music, there was a two-minute pause. Also, the music was rotated in random order throughout the study.
Researchers found that the faster the tempo the faster the heart rate and breathing participants experienced, and, alternatively, the slower the tempo the more relaxed the participants were. Interestingly enough, the individual’s musical taste seemed to have no bearing on the results — it all depended on the speed of the music.
The pause between musical styles seemed to relax the participants — so much so that their heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing speed were even lower than at the beginning of the study. Also, the musicians in the study were more affected by the music than the other participants were.
The study concluded that music induces an arousal effect. The key findings were that the faster the music the faster the blood flow and heart rate; the slower the music the more relaxed the person became.
So, the next time you are deciding on a record to play, you might want to think about this study. Do you want to be up and moving, or would you prefer to give your heart and your mind a chance to rest and relax?