Mind-body movement professionals should consider the impact that music can have on their programs. According to a new study published in Circulation (2009; 119 , 3171–80), loud music increases heart rate and blood pressure, while soft music lowers both, independent of subjective musical preferences. This study adds to the growing body of research documenting the effects of music on mood and physiology.
Researchers at Pavia University in Pavia, Italy, studied the interaction between music and the cardiorespiratory system to increase understanding of how music can be used in rehabilitative medicine. Investigators recruited 24 young, healthy volunteers, half of whom were trained musicians, and measured their cardiovascular responses to music. Crescendos had a stimulating effect, and decrescendos had a relaxing influence.
Barry A. Franklin, director of cardiac rehabilitation and exercise laboratories at William Beaumont Hospitals in Michigan and a spokesman for the American Heart Association, commented, “[The researchers] were able to see modest changes in all variables. As a clinician, one who works with people with cardiovascular disease, I ask, can we extrapolate or generalize to clinical populations? I see some potentially very exciting research and clinical applications to people with disabilities, where modest changes could have very significant salutatory effects. If they listen to music through headphones while they exercise, can we get better changes on such measures as oxygen flow and blood pressure?”
Al Bumanis, spokesman for the American Music Therapy Association, said, “One logical step would be to encourage interdisciplinary research, with relevant clinical populations receiving specific music therapy interventions. The effects of music therapy are being tested in people in cardiovascular rehabilitation, brain-injured individuals and premature babies, among others.”