Driving can be very stressful, particularly if you are stuck in heavy traffic or are an inexperienced driver, and this stress will eventually take its toll on the heart. However, researchers now confirm that there is a simple fix for this problem: listening to the right music while driving.
Past research has shown that experiencing frequent psychological stress can be a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease, a condition that affects almost half of those aged 20 years and older in the United States.
One source of frequent stress is driving, either due to the stressors associated with heavy traffic or the anxiety that often accompanies inexperienced drivers.
Does this mean, though, that people who drive on a daily basis are set to develop heart problems, or is there a simple way of easing the stress of driving?
According to a new study by researchers from São Paulo State University in Marília, Brazil, Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom, and the University of Parma in Italy, there is.
In a study paper that features in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine, the researchers report the encouraging results of a study involving inexperienced drivers, noting that listening to music while driving helps relieve the stress that affects heart health.
"We found that cardiac stress in the participants in our experiment was reduced by listening to music while they were driving," says principal investigator Prof. Vitor Engrácia Valenti.
Music may lower cardiovascular stress
For their study, the researchers recruited five female volunteers between the ages of 18 and 23 years who were in good health, were not habitual drivers — they drove no more than twice a week — and had received their driver's license 1–7 years before the start of the study.
"We opted to assess women who were not habitual drivers because people who drive frequently and have had a license for a long time are better adapted to stressful situations in traffic," explains Prof. Valenti.