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Neth Heart J. 2013 Apr;21(4):183-8. doi: 10.1007/s12471-012-0372-9.

Neurocardiological differences between musicians and control subjects.

Author information

1
Department of Cardiology, Leiden University Medical Center, Albinusdreef 2, PO Box 9600, 2300 RC, Leiden, the Netherlands.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Exercise training is beneficial in health and disease. Part of the training effect materialises in the brainstem due to the exercise-associated somatosensory nerve traffic. Because active music making also involves somatosensory nerve traffic, we hypothesised that this will have training effects resembling those of physical exercise.

METHODS:

We compared two groups of healthy, young subjects between 18 and 30 years: 25 music students (13/12 male/female, group M) and 28 controls (12/16 male/female, group C), peers, who were non-musicians. Measurement sessions to determine resting heart rate, resting blood pressure and baroreflex sensitivity (BRS) were held during morning hours.

RESULTS:

Groups M and C did not differ significantly in age (21.4 ± 3.0 vs 21.2 ± 3.1 years), height (1.79 ± 0.11 vs 1.77 ± 0.10 m), weight (68.0 ± 9.1 vs 66.8 ± 10.4 kg), body mass index (21.2 ± 2.5 vs 21.3 ± 2.4 kg∙m(-2)) and physical exercise volume (39.3 ± 38.8 vs 36.6 ± 23.6 metabolic equivalent hours/week). Group M practised music daily for 1.8 ± 0.7 h. In group M heart rate (65.1 ± 10.6 vs 68.8 ± 8.3 beats/min, trend P =0.08), systolic blood pressure (114.2 ± 8.7 vs 120.3 ± 10.0 mmHg, P = 0.01), diastolic blood pressure (65.0 ± 6.1 vs 71.0 ± 6.2 mmHg, P < 0.01) and mean blood pressure (83.7 ± 6.4 vs 89.4 ± 7.1, P < 0.01) were lower than in group C. BRS in groups M and C was 12.9 ± 6.7 and 11.3 ± 5.8 ms/mmHg, respectively (P = 0.17).

CONCLUSIONS:

The results of our study suggest that active music making has training effects resembling those of physical exercise training. Our study opens a new perspective, in which active music making, additionally to being an artistic activity, renders concrete health benefits for the musician.

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