Listening to Adele in the car could reduce stress and help to keep people’s hearts healthy, according to scientists.
Researchers carried out a small study on young women on the roads in Brazil and found listening to Enya and instrumental versions of Adele songs calmed them.
Piano versions of chart-toppers Someone Like You and Hello were included on a playlist designed to chill out drivers stuck in traffic.
The music reduced fluctuations in their heart rates which, over time, could help them avoid serious health problems.
Music has been found to subconsciously influence brain wave rhythms and regulate activity in the nervous system, lowering blood pressure and heart rate.
Piano instrumental versions of Adele’s Hello and Someone Like You were tested on stressed drivers in the study, along with a song by Enya, and researchers found they helped reduce the strain on people’s hearts (stock image)
Scientists at two universities in São Paulo, Brazil, worked with Oxford Brookes University and the University of Parma in Italy.
They studied five women – an extremely small amount for a scientific experiment but ‘with the aim of circumventing possible car accidents’ – in Marilia, Brazil.
Each of the women drove a busy 1.8mile (3km) route around the city in a car provided by the researchers in rush hour journeys which took around 20 minutes.
In one test they drove in silence and in the next they listened to music, and their heart rates were measured throughout the study.
HOW DOES MUSIC CALM YOU DOWN?
Music can relax the body because brain waves are able to synchronise with the rhythm of a song, research has found in the past.
Because of this, people’s moods can reflect what they listen to – fast or energetic music may make people feel alert and pumped, while slow music calms them down.
Slower tunes have been observed slowing down people’s heart rates, which in turn slows the breathing, lowers blood pressure and relaxes the muscles. A faster heart rate has the opposite effect and can make people feel tense or uncomfortable.
Researchers at Stanford University in the US found music could have the same effect on the brain as meditation and that slow, regular tunes are the most relaxing.
In line with meditative purposes, often the most relaxing music seems to be songs which don’t have any lyrics – possibly because thinking about words requires active effort from the brain.
The Stanford team said Native American, Celtic and Indian strings, drums and flutes were very effective, as well as natural sounds like rain, or light jazz or classical music.
Songs on the heart-calming playlist were instrumental versions of Hello and Someone Like You by Adele, Exile by Enya, Christian musician Chris Tomlin’s instrumental of Amazing Grace, and a meditation tune called Electra by Airstream.
‘We found that cardiac stress in the participants in our experiment was reduced by listening to music while they were driving,’ said Professor Vitor Valenti.
Cardiac stress is a measure of how much strain is being put on the heart, and Professor Valenti and his colleagues focused on the pulse fluctuations.
When people are stressed their bodies release chemicals which speed up the heart and lead to higher blood pressure, increasing the risk of damaging inflammation or a heart attack in people who already have serious illnesses.
Prolonged periods of inflammation or high blood pressure can make someone more likely to develop heart disease, heart failure or dementia or have a stroke.
The researchers claimed ‘stress while driving is a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease and sudden cardiac complications such as heart attack’.
Professor Valenti added: ‘Listening to music attenuated the moderate stress overload the volunteers experienced as they drove.
‘Listening to music could be a preventive measure in favor of cardiovascular health in situations of intense stress such as driving during rush hour.’
The research was published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine.