Brazilian researchers from São Paulo State University suggest listening to classical or instrumental music to reduce stress while driving. Researchers at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom and the University of Parma in Italy also took part in this initiative.
In order to test the hypothesis, researchers initiated an experiment on five women aged between 18 and 23, then they were monitored in the course of multiple driving sessions.
The first test includes 20-minute drive during rush hours on an extremely busy route in the town of Marilia without listening to music.
The following day the participants drove on the same route at the same time while playing instrumental music. “To increase the degree of traffic stress, we asked them to drive a car they did not own,” points out Vitor Engrácia Valenti, who co-directed the study.
Heart monitor were fitted to the volunteers in order to measure their heart rate variability (HRV) and evaluate the level of cardiac stress.
In line with this, results revealed a lesser HRV in volunteers who drove without music, which reflects a a lower level of parasympathetic nervous system activity coupled with an activation of the sympathetic nervous system.
“Elevated sympathetic nervous system activity reduces HRV, whereas more intense parasympathetic nervous system activity increases it,” explains Valenti.
On the other hand, HRV increased to those who listened to music, which indicates a higher level of parasympathetic nervous system activity and a reduction of sympathetic nervous system activity.
“Listening to music attenuated the moderate stress overload the volunteers experienced as they drove,” noted Valenti.