As the city roads get more and more chaotic every passing day, driving on the roads gets more and more stressful too. If you’re wondering the mounting amount of stress caused by driving is causing you serious health problems, a new study may have just the solution you need. According to the study by a group of Brazilian researchers, cardiac overload due to the stress of driving in heavy traffic can be attenuated by listening to instrumental music.
The study was blushed in the journal, Complementary Therapies in Medicine. Researchers at the University of Sao Paulo (USP) in Brazil, Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom and the University of Parma in Italy also took part in this study.
The researchers analyzed the effects of music on cardiac stress in five women between the ages of 18 and 23. All subjects were healthy, considered nonhabitual drivers (they drove once or twice a week), and had obtained a license 1-7 years previously.
"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," Valenti explained.
The volunteers were assessed on two days, in different situations and in random order. On one day, they drove for 20 minutes at rush hour (5:30-6:30 pm) along a 3 km route in a busy district of Marilia, a medium-sized city in the northwest of Sao Paulo State, without listening to music.
The level of cardiac stress was estimated by measuring heart rate variability using a heart rate monitor attached to the participant's chest. Defined as fluctuations in the intervals between consecutive heartbeats, heart rate variability is influenced by the autonomic nervous system. The more active the sympathetic nervous system, the faster the heartbeats, while the parasympathetic nervous system tends to slow it down.
Conversely, heart rate variability increased in the drivers who listened to music, indicating a higher level of parasympathetic nervous system activity and a reduction in sympathetic nervous system activity.