The Rhythm of Your Heart

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The beat of your heart synchronizes to music. Studies have shown that when people listen to music, their heartbeats will often adapt to the tempo they hear. In other words, fast tempo music can speed up a heartbeat, and slow, soothing music can slow it down. Indeed, research into people who listen to the latter category on a daily basis has suggested that they potentially have better blood pressure and lower resting heart rates. How much a person is susceptible sometimes correlates with the amount of musical training they have had, as it seems that the synchronization happens more in those who unconsciously change their breath and heart rate to match the music due to their understading of the complexities of music. A crescendo, for example, can cause immediate changes in respiration and cardio rhythms. Nevertheless, the effects of music even for nonmusical experts are so apparent that subconscious reflexes can be detected. Researchers have found that almost every crescendo and decrescendo in a music score induced physiological responses in study participants, including not just increases and decreases in heartbeat and breathing, but also progressive vascular constriction and dilation in the skin. The potential benefits to medicine, such as in the treatment of pain and the ability to control anxiety, might mean that listening to calming music during medical procedures or in treatment will one day be doctors’ orders!