Studies show that music not only boosts one’s mood, but also helps overall wellness–and may improve heart health. “There is no other stimulus on earth that simultaneously engages our brains as widely as music does,” says Brian Harris, certified neurologic music therapist at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. In addition to engaging the auditory system, music also activates many other parts of the brain, including those responsible for movement, language, attention, memory, and emotion. Harris notes that this global activation happens when listening to music, playing an instrument, or even informally singing in the car or shower.
Music can also alter brain chemistry, and these changes may produce cardiovascular benefits, as evidenced by a number of different studies. Studies have found that listening to music may:
- Enable people to exercise longer during cardiac stress testing done on a treadmill or stationary bike
- Improve blood vessel function by relaxing arteries
- Help heart rate and blood pressure levels to return to baseline more quickly after physical exertion
- Ease anxiety in heart attack survivors
- Help people recovering from heart surgery to feel less pain and anxiety.