By Prasun Sonwalkar
Do you have a heart problem? Listening to Indian classical music or learning a musical instrument could help, suggests a study.
The study, conducted by British and Italian scientists from the University of Oxford and the University of Pavia, aimed at exploring the effects of music on musicians and non-musicians.
Tempo, rather than style, is the greatest stress-buster?the study, published in the journal Heart, said.
The researchers compared the effect of a range of pieces, from Beethoven to techno to Indian classical music, on musicians and non-musicians.
The study found that all kinds of faster music and complex rhythms speed up breathing and circulation. On the other hand, slower or more meditative music had the opposite effect, with raga music creating the largest fall in heart rate.
The researchers suggest the effects of slow rhythms and pauses could be helpful in preventing or treating heart disease and stroke.
Writing in Heart, the team led by Luciano Bernadi and Professor Peter Sleight said: ?Appropriate selection of music, by alternating fast and slower rhythms and pauses, can be used to induce relaxation and so can be potentially useful for cardiovascular disease.?
Charmaine Griffiths, spokesperson at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said: ?This small study adds to the work BHF scientists are doing to understand how positive emotional state and relaxation can contribute to our well-being.
?BHF researchers have already shown association between emotions and signs of good heart health. People relax in different ways and it may be that music is key for some while for others curling up with a good book or taking a long walk is just as beneficial.
?One person'sMozart may be someone else'sMadonna and it may be that different people find relaxation in different types of music.?
In the study, the researchers observed breathing and circulation in 24 young men and women, before and while they listened to short excerpts of music. These people included both musicians and non-musicians.
But the effects were stronger for the musicians among them, as they had been trained to synchronise breathing with musical phrases.
Half were highly trained musicians, who had been playing instruments such as the violin, piano, flute, clarinet or bass for at least seven years. The remainder had had no musical training.
Each participant listened to short tracks of different types of music in random order, for two minutes, followed by the same selection of tracks for four minutes each.
A two-minute pause was randomly inserted into each of these sequences.
Debabrata Chaudhuri'sRaga Maru Behag was one of the musical pieces that the researchers used while conducting the study. Other pieces included Beethoven'sninth symphony (slow classical), rap (the Red Hot Chili Peppers), Vivaldi (fast classical), techno and Anton Webern (slow 12 tone music).
Birmingham Muslims oppose casino move
A move to open a casino in Birmingham City Football Club'snew stadium is being opposed by the Muslim community as gambling is forbidden in Islam. The stadium is located in the middle of a neighbourhood mainly inhabited by the Muslim community. Three mosques are also located nearby.
Opponents of the casino within the community are appealing to Asian fans to boycott matches if the plans are taken forward, a report in Eastern Eye, a British Asian weekly, said.
Football fan Suheel Akhtar, 22, said: ?I am disgusted. I have been a Birmingham fan nearly all my life, but I pray five times a day too, and if they build a casino [in the stadium], I will not spend a penny at the club or go and see any of the games. We will boycott the club.?
The football club'sargument is that the super casino will regenerate the area.
The Birmingham Council is expected to inform the government by the end of October which of the two rival bids it would support.
There are financial reasons for the club to go ahead with the casino. The club will not get 217 million pounds from American firm Las Vegas Sands Casino towards a new 55,000-seater stadium if they do not include a casino.
But Muslim fans say the club should put the community'swishes first.
Abdul Turkistani, 22, a student at Birmingham University, has been supporting the club for four years. He said: ?Building a casino would put many fans in a difficult position because we love our team but can'tbe at a place that allows gambling.?
A spokeswoman for Birmingham city said it was taking Asian views seriously.
(The writer is a UK-based journalist and can be contacted on [email protected])