Tugging at Heartstrings – How Classical Music can affect your Health

Listening to classical music can affect your heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels. It could be helping your heart and improving your mood. 

Almost everyone enjoys listening to music. Whether it's at home or on the commute to work, we're constantly surrounded by songs. Listening to a favourite song can brighten our day but it might also be affecting our hearts.

Classical music isn't to everyone's taste. However, it does appear to be the most beneficial to heart health. In 2016, a group of volunteers were played Mozart, Strauss or ABBA while their blood pressure and heart rate were closely monitored. The ABBA group displayed almost no change while the classical group experienced a decrease in heart rate and a significant drop in blood pressure1.

Volunteers in all groups had lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in their blood after listening to music. We know that stress has a huge impact on heart health so any method to help us relax should be welcomed, especially when it's as easy as turning on the radio. Listening to just 30 minutes of Mozart, or half an hour of Haydn, should be enough to experience these beneficial effects yourself1.

Figuring out how music can affect our health is not an exact science - there are a lot of variables at play. Taste in music is highly personal; a tune that relaxes one person might have the opposite effect in another.

Listening to calming, familiar music that you enjoy, classical or otherwise, should lower your cortisol levels, heart rate and blood pressure. Take time out of your day to listen to some soothing songs alone, without interruption. If you're feeling stressed, putting on some headphones and unwinding with a treasured tune may decrease your cortisol levels and help you.

Music and medicine have been used together throughout history to treat a variety of health problems – it isn't a recent idea. Ancient Greek doctors used lyres and flutes to treat people's health problems. And in 1880, experiments with music on blood pressure and heart rate were first conducted in Salpetriere Hospital, Paris2 Music medicine is a relatively new field of research, looking at how sounds can affect people's physical and mental health. Using cutting-edge scientific techniques, we're now beginning to understand exactly how music and sound can affect our physical health and change our mood and mindset for the better.

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4906829/

2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2766288/