Recent Blog Articles
Cutting and self-harm: Why it happens and what to do
Discrimination at work is linked to high blood pressure
Pouring from an empty cup? Three ways to refill emotionally
Give praise to the elbow: A bending, twisting marvel
Sneezy and dopey? Seasonal allergies and your brain
The FDA relaxes restrictions on blood donation
Apps to accelerometers: Can technology improve mental health in older adults?
Swimming and skin: What to know if a child has eczema
A muscle-building obsession in boys: What to know and do
Natural disasters strike everywhere: Ways to help protect your health
Put a song in your heart
- By Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter
Music may help restore a healthy balance to the nervous system and orchestrate other changes that benefit the heart.
Have you ever gotten goose bumps or chills while listening to music you really love? If so, you’ve experienced firsthand how this universal art form can evoke tangible, physical changes in your body. But the physical experience of listening to or creating music may go beyond a brief shiver of pleasure — perhaps even improving your heart health.
"There’s growing evidence that music may benefit people with cardiovascular disease," says Dr. Peter Libby, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. By and large, the effect appears to arise from music’s ability to rebalance the two main branches of the body’s autonomic nervous system, he says. This primitive part of your nervous system works on autopilot, regulating functions such as your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. One branch governs the stress (fight-or-flight) response; the other controls the relaxation (rest-and-recovery) response.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
About the Author
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
You might also be interested in…
Heart Failure: Understanding the condition and optimizing treatment
In Heart Failure: Understanding the condition and optimizing treatment, you’ll learn the mechanics of the heart, the symptoms and warning signs of heart failure, and the keys to an effective treatment plan. This report will help you understand and invest in the steps you need to take to keep heart failure in check. You’ll get guidance for monitoring symptoms, for sticking to your doctor's strategy, and for making heart-smart lifestyle changes.
Free Healthbeat Signup
Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!