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Heart Health: Music is Heart Food

March 9, 2010

“If music be the food of love, play on…” Shakespeare writes, and hopefully by now you’ve picked up on my belief that doing things we love is actually physically good for our hearts. Feeling good emotionally and feeling good physically often go hand in hand.

Music is good for your healthSo now I present you with a few scientific studies that support me on this! At least as far as music goes. The first is from Italy, where they are really good and enjoying life.

“Music induces a continuous, dynamic—and to some extent predictable—change in the cardiovascular system,” said Luciano Bernardi, M.D., lead researcher of the study and professor of Internal Medicine at Pavia University in Pavia, Italy. “It is not only the emotion that creates the cardiovascular changes, but this study suggests that also the opposite might be possible, that cardiovascular changes may be the substrate for emotions, likely in a bi-directional way.”

Allow me to translate—music may indeed be food for the heart, because it can make your heart rate change which then may effect your emotions. Cool, huh? Bernardi noted that music more frequently is being used as a therapeutic tool for different diseases. In addition, the distracting effect of music can also prolong exercise by increasing the threshold for pain or labored breathing.

Another study by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore has shown for the first time that the emotions aroused by joyful music have a healthy effect on blood vessel function.

Principal investigator Michael Miller, M.D. says, "The active listening to music evokes such raw positive emotions likely in part due to the release of endorphins, part of that mind-heart connection that we yearn to learn so much more about. Needless to say, these results were music to my ears because they signal another preventive strategy that we may incorporate in our daily lives to promote heart health.