- According to recent research presented at the American College of Cardiology’s annual scientific session, listening to relaxing music can help lower your risk of heart failure, heart attack, and cardiac-related death.
- It’s possible that relaxing music can help with running-related aches and pains, too.
Recent viral videos from Italy and Spain show people singing together from inside their homes while in quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and police officers becoming troubadours to soothe anxious apartment dwellers. Turns out, these musical efforts may be good not just for your emotional health, but also for your heart.
A recent presentation at the American College of Cardiology’s annual scientific session detailed a study of 350 people who’d already had a heart attack and early post-infarction angina (chest pain that occurs 24 hours or more after a heart attack) in Serbia. Half received regular medical treatment, and the other also received treatment, but with music therapy added in.
Those in the second group listened to soothing music for 30 minutes each day for seven years. Each kept a log about their sessions and possible effects, and were assessed every three months in the first year, then annually until the end of the seven-year period.
At the end of the study, the people who listened to music showed considerable advantage over those only receiving standard treatment. They had an 18 percent lower rate of heart failure, 23 percent lower rate of subsequent heart attack, and 16 percent lower rate of cardiac death.
This was one of the first studies to analyze the effects of music on heart conditions, and especially on prevention of heart attacks, lead study author Predrag Mitrovic, M.D., Ph.D., professor of cardiology at the University of Belgrade School of Medicine, told Runner’s World.
He said the mechanism at play here is likely related to the sympathetic nervous system, which drives the stress response, including an increased heart rate and blood pressure. Those in the music group had anxiety scores that were one-third lower than those who didn’t listen to music daily—and with less anxiety, there is less workload on the heart, Mitrovic said.
For those who don’t have heart issues and are instead dealing with a few running-related aches and pains, it’s still possible that music therapy could have an effect thanks to the reduced activity of the sympathetic nervous system, Mitrovic said.
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Even better, music may actually help you recover more effectively, even if you’ve been listening to music during your run or workout that isn’t necessarily defined as “soothing” (think: your favorite rap or heavy metal tunes blasting during a hard effort). A small study published in February 2016 in PLOS One noted that listening to relaxing music just after a workout could help activate your parasympathetic nervous system after exercise—which is responsible for helping you chill out—and that could result in faster recovery and reduction in cardiac stress.
Laughter is certainly good medicine—especially in these uncertain times—but music seems to be a notable remedy as well.