Researchers have shown that music is good for your health, whether you are a practising musician or an avid listener.
For example, if you’re scheduled for surgery, you may want to bring your CD or MP3 player to the hospital. Be sure you have your favourite relaxing musical selections to enjoy before and after surgery.
A group of researchers studied 18-to 70-year-old patients who had undergone abdominal surgery. Post-surgical patients on pain medications who listened to music and/or did relaxation exercises recovered quicker than patients only receiving pain medication.
When you’re in pain after surgery, you generally don’t eat or sleep as well and your tissues may not mend as well, either. Music may help ease the pain.
Research suggests that music is good for your heart, too. Italian and British researchers recruited 24 young men and women, half of whom were trained musicians.
The participants slipped on headphones and listened to six styles of music, including rap and classical pieces, with random two-minute pauses. As the participants kicked back and listened, the researchers monitored their breathing, heart rates and blood pressure.
The researchers expected some of the results. The participants had faster heart and breathing rates when they listened to lively music. When the music slowed, so did their heart and breathing rates.
Some results were surprising. During the musical pauses, heart and breathing rates normalized or reached more optimal levels. Whether or not a person liked the style of music did not matter. The tempo, or pace, of the music had the greatest effect on relaxation.
Although music had a positive effect on everyone, trained musicians experienced greater effects on their heart and breathing rates. The researchers speculated that the trained musicians had learned to breathe in time with the music.
Music may play a role in helping prevent heart disease. So add a little music to your life. To reap the greatest health benefits, you might want to start learning an instrument, also.
– Julie Garden-Robinson, PhD, L. R. D, is a North Dakota State
University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist
and associate professor in the department of health, nutrition and exercise sciences.