Music - Good for Both Heart and Soul...
Maybe the iPod generation is on to something. After all, you rarely see a frown on the face of someone who's absorbed in their favorite tune. While many talk through their day as if there's a dentist lurking around each corner, the iPoders seem virtually oblivious to the impending whine of the drill. What gives?
Well, according to recent research, the iPoders may simply be more relaxed. And, that's not relaxation in a metaphorical way, but relaxed in the true Bidenesque manner - literally.
Dr. Michael Miller, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center, and his team found that music has a clear physiologic impact. When people listen to their favorite music their blood vessels dilate, effectively reducing their blood pressure and allowing blood to flow more freely. "I was impressed with the highly significant differences both before and after listening to joyful music," said Miller.
The effects are the same patients experience when taking statin medications to reduce cholesterol. Or, when they laugh. Or exercise. It's really quite an amazing finding. When blood vessels open up, the entire body benefits. The blood pressure drops, the blood flows more freely and is less likely to form into life threatening clots. This reduces the risk of both stroke and heart attacks.
"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," said Miller. "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."
Wow. What a concept - add a little daily music therapy to your heart healthy lifestyle. And, for the iPoders? Hey, just keep on keeping on...
To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To read more about the use of music as an active health care therapy, see this from the American Music Therapy Association.