Why listening to music can make you as fit as a fiddle: It can help your body fight infection and recover after ops
|Researchers have found that classical music - especially compositions by Giuseppe Verdi - can significantly lower the listener's blood pressure. |
Photo: Daily Mail
As the Mail reports today, researchers have found that classical music - especially compositions by Giuseppe Verdi - can significantly lower the listener's blood pressure. And last month, a British study found that regularly listening to music improved both short-term and long-term memory in people with dementia. Music therapy is also used in aiding stroke patients and to help those with Parkinson's learn to walk again.
Here we explore how listening to, learning and playing music helps...
How songs reduce blood pressure
One of the most intriguing ways in which music improves health is its effect on the heart and circulation.
In a 2008 study at the University of Maryland Medical Centre in the U.S., researchers measured ten healthy people's blood pressure as they listened to music of their choice. Their blood vessels dilated by 26 per cent after listening to music they found 'joyful', compared with 19 per cent after watching a funny video and 11 per cent after listening to relaxing sound recordings.
Keeping blood pressure low means the blood vessels are less likely to stiffen and become blocked, which can lead to heart disease and attacks. Dr Michael Miller, the cardiologist who led the study, now prescribes listening to music to patients.
'We see the effects immediately, which suggests there is a direct effect on the blood vessels,' he says. 'Music seems to harmonise the body's autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for involuntary actions such as heart rate, digestion and perspiration.'
Dr Miller thinks there maybe an evolutionary explanation. 'Music was part of our ancestors' socialisation process,' he says. 'It enabled us to form and develop relationships important for our survival.'...
Singing can beat asthma
Singing or playing a wind instrument can improve breathing and may particularly help those with lung conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonar disease (COPD), an umbrella term for conditions including emphysema.
The Royal Brompton Hospital in London offers singing classes to patients with respiratory conditions.
Singing helps people learn to breathe more effectively, using the stomach muscles to take long, deep breaths.
A German study published in April this year also showed that people who played a wind instrument, particularly a brass one such as a trumpet, had a lower risk of developing obstructive sleep apnoea, where the soft tissues in the neck collapse during the night, causing snoring and temporary oxygen deprivation.
The researchers said playing the instruments strengthened the muscles in the upper airways.
Source: Daily Mail