Driving is a stressful activity, especially if you are a new and inexperienced driver or are stuck in heavy traffic. As with all stressful situations, this can take a toll on the health of your heart.
However, new research featured in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine has indicated that cardiac stress in the participants of the study was significantly reduced by listening to music while they were driving.
How the Study Was Conducted
The study, conducted by researchers from São Paulo State University in Marília, Brazil, Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom, and the University of Parma in Italy, used female test subjects who were not habitual drivers.
The subjects were then asked to drive for 20 minutes during rush hour on a 3-kilometer route in one of the busiest parts of the city of Marília, in cars that were not their own and without listening to music.
After monitoring the heart rate of the test subjects during the test drive, the researchers then asked the test subjects to complete the same driving test, but this time listening to instrumental music.
After analyzing the results, the researchers were able to show that the test subjects experience a lower heart rate overall, in the same stressful situation, when listening to music.
How Music Keeps You Calm When Driving
The study has theorized that music has an impact on both the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.
The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for regulating the flight or flight response, releasing adrenaline and other stress hormones in response to anxiety-inducing situations and raising the heart rate.
It was been suggested that listening to instrumental music helps to calm and focus the mind of those experiencing stressful situations, damping the effect of the sympathetic nervous system’s fight or flight response, and enhancing the parasympathetic nervous system’s “rest and digest” process.
The team has argued that, as per the results of this small-scale experiment, listening to relaxing music could improve the stress levels of those in anxiety-inducing traffic conditions, preventing stress levels from escalating and affecting the heart-health of the driver.
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