The Effects of Volume on Heart Rate and Blood Pressure


Meaghan McGrath, Chelsea Moore, Ashley Nelson


CU Boulder, Fall 2006


Many people often use loud music to get themselves excited and motivated during physical activity.  Based on this observation, we wondered whether volume affects heart rate and blood pressure.  We hypothesized that loud and soft music affects heart rate and systolic blood pressure differently. 


To test this hypothesis, we exposed ten female subjects to two different volume treatments and recorded their heart rate and blood pressure.  Each subject listened to “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter once at a standard loud volume and once at a standard soft volume.  During each trial, we recorded heart rate and blood pressure once while the subjects were listening to the music.  We predicted that heart rate and systolic blood pressure would be higher when a subject listened to loud music than when she listened to soft music. 


Our results were inconsistent with our hypothesis.  We found that each subject had a higher heart rate while listening to loud music than while listening to soft music; these findings were statistically significant (mean quiet music 70.3 beats per minute, mean loud music 91.5 beats per minute; p-value = 4.773E-8 < 0.05).  However, we did not find a statistically significant difference between each subject’s systolic blood pressure during the two treatments (mean soft music=126, mean loud music=126.5; p-value = 0.40674 > 0.05). 


Based on these results, we conclude that heart rate is affected by loud volume of music, but systolic blood pressure is not.  Our results may have been skewed because we had trouble measuring heart rate and reading blood pressure.  When we looked at the CABLE web page we found that no one had explored how volume affected blood pressure and heart rate, only how different types of music affects blood pressure and heart rate, (Joung at al. 2002, Thorne et al. 2002).  Both studies found no significant changes in heart rate and blood pressure in response to different types of music.  Next, we would like to test how different types of music affect heart rate as well.