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A little music with exercise boosts brain power, study suggests

COLUMBUS, Ohio It's no secret that exercise improves mood, but new research suggests that working out to music may give exercisers a cognitive boost.

Listening to music while exercising helped to increase scores on a verbal fluency test among cardiac rehabilitation patients.

"This is the first study to look at the combined effects of music and short-term exercise on mental performance," said Charles Emery, the study's lead author and a professor of psychology at Ohio State University.

"Evidence suggests that exercise improves the cognitive performance of people with coronary artery disease," Emery said. "And listening to music is thought to enhance brain power. We wanted to put the two results together."

Those results appear in a recent issue of the journal Heart & Lung.

The study included 33 men and women in the final weeks of a cardiac rehabilitation program. Most participants had undergone bypass surgery, angioplasty or cardiac catheterization.

Coronary artery disease may compromise cognitive ability, Emery said; that's why he and his colleagues chose cardiac rehabilitation patients for this study.

The researchers asked participants to complete a verbal fluency test before and after two separate sessions of exercising on a treadmill. The workouts were scheduled a week apart and lasted about 30 minutes. Participants listened to classical music Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" during one of the sessions.

"We used 'The Four Seasons' because of its moderate tempo and positive effects on medical patients in previous research," Emery said. "But given the range of music preferences among patients, it's especially important to evaluate the influence of other types of music on cognitive outcomes."

As a way to measure anxiety and depression, participants completed a 30-item checklist before and after exercise. The list included adjectives to describe the patient's current mood. The researchers also tes
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Contact: Charles Emery
Emery.33@osu.edu
614-688-3061
Ohio State University
23-Mar-2004


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