Exercise Benefits For Cardiovascular Health
September 2, 2013

Listening To Music Is Good For Your Heart

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Those with cardiac disease may do well to start listening to their favorite songs as a part of their treatment.

A study from the European Society of Cardiology recently found listening to music improved their heart’s capacity for exercise by 19 percent. Combining exercise with music does even more to improve heart health and improves exercise capacity by 39 percent. Music was also found to improve overall heart function significantly.

Deljanin Ilic, lead investigator and professor with the Institute of Cardiology at the University of Nis in Serbia, attributes these improvements to endorphins released by the body when listening to music. Like other studies before, Ilic’s study also investigated how different types of music affect the body and which type of music might best benefit the heart.

In a statement, Ilic said she was interested to discover what kind of effect, if any, music had on not only the heart, but the deepest parts of the heart, inside the blood vessels.

“Exercise training has been shown to improve endothelial function and is the cornerstone of a multifaceted programme [sic] of cardiovascular rehabilitation,” said Ilic in a statement. “However, little is known about the role of music in cardiovascular rehabilitation or the effects of listening to favorite music on endothelial function.”

Ilic and team recruited 74 patients with cardiac disease to take part in the musical study. The subjects were split into three smaller groups. The first group took exercise classes which focused on cardiovascular regimens. The second group took the same classes, but listened to whichever music they chose for thirty minutes a day. The final group only listened to music and did not perform any cardiovascular exercises. At the end of the study, those who only exercised improved their exercise capacity by 29 percent. Overall improvements to the heart were measured by the endothelial response, or the way the tissue inside the blood vessels respond to an increase in blood flow.

"When we listen to music we like then endorphins are released from the brain and this improves our vascular health,” explained professor Ilic in an interview with The Telegraph. “There is no 'best music' for everyone - what matters is what the person likes and makes them happy."

Though it’s the endorphins and therefore whatever makes a person happy that makes the most heart-healthy music, Ilic does say some kinds of music might illicit a more “joyous” and therefore healing effect than others. She suggests music with aggressive tendencies or fast rhythms might not be the best to calm ones nerves and release the heart-healthy endorphins.

"It is also possible that it is better to have music without words, because it is possible that the words themselves can upset the emotions."

Professor Ilic specifically mentioned classical music as a suggestion for heart healthy tunes.

Though the study was carried out on a small number of subjects with cardiovascular disease, professor Ilic believes the general principle could still be at play for those without any difficulties of the heart. Though listening to music alone was shown to improve heart functions, Ilic continues to recommend regular exercise as the best way to improve endothelial and other functions of the heart.