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Is it true that "Happy Songs lead to Healthy Hearts?"

By November 30, 2008 - 8:38pm
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NPR aired a segment on "Happy Tunes Lead to Healthy Hearts", and I am curious if anyone has experienced this as well.

The researchers from Univ. of Maryland found that individuals who simply listened to enjoyable music (their choice, everything from Bon Jovi to Faith Hill) had as much as 25% expansion in their blood vessels, which is about the same level as when engaging in aerobic exercise. On the other hand, when individuals listened to music that was unpleasant, their blood vessels constricted, much as they would in a stressful or anxiety-producing event.

Do you believe that our bodies are this simple: that the mind-body connection is as "easy" as thinking good thoughts, eating good food or listening to good music...and by doing these "good" and "happy" and "pleasant" things, that our physical bodies respond in positive ways (expanding blood vessels, excreting endorphins), and therefore, our hearts and cardiovascular systems are healthier?

If you do believe this, I would love to hear more. Why are we (society) not talking about the "easy" ways to help your heart: do things you love!

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It doesn't surprise me about music enhancing our health, and though I haven't heard the connection between music and the heart before, I've been fascinated with stories of how music carves its own neuro-pathways through the brain, and how the entire body responds.

Researchers can actually "see" music as it finds its way across the cortex of the human brain. A 2002 study at Dartmouth published in the journal Science showed how we respond to melody and harmony, and how a pattern in music actually becomes a pattern in the brain. (It's also partially why, when you say "I have a song stuck in my head and I can't get it out," that you're telling the truth!) And the part of the brain that experiences music is also the part of the brain that processes emotion and memory. In short, if you hear a great song at a happy moment in your life, the two events are linked in your brain. It stands to reason that hearing that song later in life will bring back a feeling of good will -- maybe even a toe-tapping response!

Here's an article on the Science journal report:


December 1, 2008 - 10:37am
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