If you want to lower your blood pressure, listen to Mozart or Strauss, a new study finds.
German researchers set up an experiment to learn the effect that listening to different types of music – or just silence – has on stress indicators, including blood pressure and levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands during times of stress. Too-high levels of cortisol have been linked to depression, weight gain, problems thinking, and other ailments.
The researchers divided 120 study participants as follows: half of the subjects were exposed to music for 25 minutes. They were also divided into subgroups, in which they listed to recorded music, either classical pieces by Mozart or Johann Strauss Jr., or the pop band ABBA. The remaining 60 subjects were allocated to a control group that spent their time in silence. Before and after exposure to music and quiet time, respectively, all participants had their blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol concentration measured.
Classical music by Mozart and Strauss notably lowered blood pressure and heart rate, whereas no substantial effect was seen for the songs of ABBA. In the control group, resting in a prone position also resulted in blood pressure lowering, but the effect was far less pronounced than for exposure to the music of Mozart or Strauss.
In the control group, resting also lowered blood pressure, but the effect was far less pronounced than for exposure to the music of Mozart or Strauss. All of the musical genres lowered cortisol concentrations.
As far as cortisol concentrations were concerned, the sex of the participants must have played a part, because the drop in cortisol levels was more pronounced in men than in women, especially after exposure to the music of Mozart and Strauss. For women especially, the effect of music was far greater than that of silence, the researchers said of the study, which appears in the current issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International.
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