If you exercise while listening to music, you may have noticed that it can help boost your energy. A study presented at the 67th Annual Meeting of the American College of Cardiology suggests that listening to music during a cardiac stress test helps prolong the time spent exercising.
Music can have a powerful impact on our mood, including signaling the brain to release chemicals that boost feelings of well-being. While previous studies have examined how music may influence specific markers of heart health, this study is the first to assess the impact of music on exercise tolerance during cardiac stress testing. On average, people who listened to music during the test could exercise for nearly a minute longer than those who had no music in their ears.
Standard heart test
Cardiac stress tests help doctors assess fitness level and blood pressure, measure symptoms of chest pain or heart rate during exercise, and diagnose weaknesses in the arteries of the heart. They are often performed on a treadmill or stationary bike, while the patient being tested has electrodes placed on their chest to record heart activity. A total of 127 patients (average age 53) were randomly selected to either listen to music (mostly Latin-inspired) or hear nothing through their headphones.
“Physical activity: listening to music”
Other than introducing the headphones into the test environment, the stress test was performed as usual. The researchers collected and analyzed demographic data (age, gender, medical history, social history), vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, etc.). Stress testing can be difficult, even painful, for some people because the speed and incline of the treadmill are increased every three minutes. This protocol includes three-minute periods to allow a steady state to be reached before the workload increases.
Music has an energizing effect during exercise
After six minutes, the person feels like they are climbing a mountain, so to be able to go another 50 seconds means a lot. Although the maximum duration for a stress test is 20 minutes, the exercise time was significantly longer in the group that listened to music compared to the control group, respectively 505.8 versus 455.2 seconds, i.e. an absolute difference of about 50.6 seconds. These results support the idea that upbeat music has a synergistic effect in terms of wanting to exercise longer and sticking to a daily exercise routine. When doctors recommend exercise, they might also suggest listening to music.
30 min a day of physical activity to protect the heart
Being inactive or not exercising ranks alongside high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and obesity as one of the top five risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Producing regular exercise can be one of the best defenses against heart disease or heart attack. Experts recommend adults get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity a day. This includes brisk walking, swimming, tennis, bicycling, dancing, water aerobics, gardening, and even household chores.