Joyful Music and Laughter Do the Heart Good

Aug 04, 2009

Music that makes you happy also benefits your cardiovascular system. That encouraging finding emerged from a small study presented in November 2008 at the Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association in New Orleans. Ten study participants, who listened to self-selected tunes that “made them feel good and brought them a sense of joy,” experienced a healthy increase in blood flow that improved circulation, according to researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

“We had previously demonstrated that positive emotions, such as laughter, were good for vascular health. So, a logical question was whether other emotions, such as those evoked by music, have a similar effect,” said principal investigator Michael Miller, MD, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center. “We knew that individual people would react differently to different types of music, so in this study we enabled participants to select music based upon their likes and dislikes.”

Quite how music and laughter produce these improvements in circulation is not clear, but Miller suggests that endorphins may play a role. “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. 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.”

To read more about the study, go to www.umm.edu/news/releases/music-cardiovascular.htm.

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