Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Surprising ways music is good for your heart

Like most of us, you have probably felt a song pull on your heartstrings or maybe even felt your heart skip a beat at the sound of a particular melody. Countless love songs have been written about the heart—there’s even a band named Heart--to the point that for many people love and music are forever intertwined.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, the holiday celebrated literally and figuratively with the heart, here are some interesting notes on how playing and listening to music actually has real health benefits for your ticker. So, whether you’re a musician or a music fan, turn up the tunes and give your heart some love.
A recent study found that listening to music for 30 minutes a day can lower your blood pressure. During the study, patients with high blood pressure listened to classical music, Celtic music, or Indian ragas for a half hour every day for a month, leading to significant drops in systolic blood pressure (the top number when your blood pressure is taken.) High systolic blood pressure increases heart disease risk. Always consults your doctor first for treatment options for high blood pressure, or any other health issue, but remember adding a daily dose of music can’t hurt!

Perhaps one reason music has the power to lower blood pressure is its natural stress-relieving ability. Music has actually been found to be more effective than prescription medications at reducing stress in patients before surgery. Next time you find yourself feeling stressed, try taking deep breaths and listening to your favorite song. De-stressing isn’t just good for your heart; taking time to relax can boost your immune system and help to clear your mind.

Musicians enjoy another heart benefit each time they practice their instruments. Though most instruments are not exactly a workout, playing music does burn calories and it’s certainly better for you than sitting on the couch watching T.V. Drummers burn the most, averaging around 200 calories per hour of playing. Guitarists and other musicians who stand while they rock out can burn from 130 to 200 calories per hour, while seated players only burn about 60 calories.

When you are ready to exercise, listening to music pumps you up and increases your stamina. Studies have shown many benefits to adding music to your workout, and regular exercise is one of the best ways to improve and maintain heart health. Remember to bring you iPod the next time you go to the gym! If you’re like many of us, and don’t particularly like to exercise, listening to your favorite music can help you stay motivated while you work out.
Now that you know how music is good for your heart, why not find a few more ways to bring music into your day? Here are a few ideas:
  • According to Nielsen, the average American watches about 32 hours of television per week. Instead of automatically reaching for the remote, turn on your stereo instead and enjoy the benefits of music.
  • Pick a soundtrack for your housework! Play your favorite album while you fold laundry or make a playlist you can put on when you work in the yard. Adding music to your daily chores will change your mindset and help your heart.
  • Have you always dreamed of playing an instrument but you never learned how? Now is always the best time to start music lessons! Learning to play will deepen your appreciation for music and give you a new way to experience your favorite songs.
  • Musicians, do you turn off your cell phone and your computer when you’re practicing your instrument? Many people don’t, and it can be very difficult to disconnect and truly focus on practicing. Remind yourself that your texts and emails will still be there later and give yourself at least 30 minutes of play without interruptions from technology.

How do you connect with music on Valentine’s Day or just any old day? Let us know in the comments!

Adapted from this article on takelessons.com/blog.