Along with Valentine's Day, February marks American Heart Month , a time for us all to pause and recommit to the lifestyle changes that lead to a lifetime of heart health. We all know we should be exercising and eating right but don't forget your daily dose or Beethoven, Bach and Verdi as several research studies suggest that music not only touches our hearts, it may help it function.
In 2015, a group of researchers at Oxford University presented the results of 20 years of studying the effects of music on the cardiovascular system. The research team was made up of both conservatory trained musicians and biophysicists. The results of this study suggest that listening to classical music pieces containing a ten second rhythm led to a fall in blood pressure and a heart rate reduction. Researchers postulated that the ten second rhythm flawlessly coincided with the human nervous system's regulation of blood pressure and heart rate to accommodate the activities and stress and life, which in healthy individuals occurs every ten seconds. Some examples of this rhythm can be found in Beethoven Symphony No. 9 adagio, and many works by Guiseppe Verdi.
Researchers at the University of San Diego conducted a study in 2004 in which students were asked to complete a challenging three minute mental arithmetic task and then randomly assigned to sit in silence and listen to classical, jazz or pop music. Participants who listened to classical music had significantly lower post-task systolic blood pressure levels (M = 2.1 mmHg above pre-stress baseline) than did participants who heard no music (M = 10.8 mmHg). Other musical styles did not produce significantly better recovery than silence. The results of this study suggest that listening to classical music may serve to promote cardiac recovery from stress.
The health benefits of classical music may extend beyond heart health as well. Studies have linked classical music to reduced stress, improved sleep, and even improved IQ. With all of these unseen benefits, classical music not only warms our heart, but may bring us improved well being.
As we look to American Heart Month, and ways to enhance our heart health, please consider joining the Boulder Chamber Orchestra for a unique evening of music and community on March 4th. A favorite of BCO, guest artist Chloe Trevor will be performing a set of beautiful duets with pianist Jonathan Tsay.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Family Nurse Practitioner
Board Member, Boulder Chamber Orchestra