I’ll admit it: I’m always curious to check out the results of the latest medical study from an academic institution. (Consuming more than eight pounds of red bean curd per year can enlarge my nipples? Color me surprised!) And this week brings news of a stunner: A University of Maryland study suggests that listening to your favorite “joyful” music can be beneficial to your cardiovascular system by promoting good blood flow, while “anxious” music can cause constriction of one’s arteries. Most participants in this study (and granted, there were only 10 test subjects), selected country music as their “joyful” music, while heavy metal caused anxious feelings.
As one who enjoys his fair share of the devil’s music, I was immediately perplexed. First of all, I love nothing more than to unwind with a glass of white wine and a copy of Back in Black. And most times I listen to country music, I find myself getting tense like a cat that you pick up but it doesn’t want to get picked up and then it starts squirming and scratching until you let go of it. But was I gravely mistaken? Every time that I rocked some Killswitch Engage, was I actually rocking myself to death? To get some perspective on this potentially alarming situation, I sought immediate medical help in the form of an old friend, Dr. Alan League. He’s technically an orthopedic surgeon, but we listened to a lot of Metallica back in college, so that makes him qualified to weigh in here. “Clearly an adrenergic cascade can be triggered by listening to ‘anxious’ music, resulting in arterial narrowing and even elevated blood pressure,” Dr. Al told a mostly confused me. “But let’s be clear, what is more stressful and disturbing: an honest heavy metal sound with satisfying power chords or a twangy little number about cheating wives, broken-down trucks, and crying in your beer? The relationship between stress levels and music clearly lies within the ear of the beholder…. An interesting follow-up study should be planned to explain the longevity of such performers as Ozzy Osbourne and Jimmy Page.”
A provocative thought, Dr. Al! So, what say you, PopWatchers? Does a dose of Megadeth or other aggressive music make you physically ill? Are you the model of good health after a nice John Denver ditty? Which genre of music has which physiological effect on you?
addCredit(“Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images; John Denver: Everett Collection”)