Going out to watch a live concert not only benefits your social life, it could also reduce your levels of the stress hormone cortisol, according to new research from London.
"This is the first preliminary evidence that attending a cultural event can have an impact on endocrine activity and down-regulate stress,” researchers Daisy Fancourt and Aaron Williamon from Imperial College London write.
Cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenal glands in response to stress.
117 subjects attended two concerts by composer Eric Whitacre - one at Gloucester Cathedral, the other at the Union Chapel in London. The volunteers had their stress hormone levels tested before the concert using a saliva sample, and then again 60 minutes later during intermission.
Researchers recorded reduced levels of cortisol in the second sample across all subjects. "This is the first time that such decreases have been found not only in tightly controlled laboratory settings but in the naturalistic setting of a public concert in a cultural space,” Rancourt said in the study.
Cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenal glands in response to stress. When released in small doses, it has benefits such as regulating blood pressure, reducing internal inflammation, as well as activating our “fight or flight” mechanism. But long-term release from chronic stress can be associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
"This is the first preliminary evidence that attending a cultural event can have an impact on endocrine activity and down-regulate stress."
The study found that the stress-reducing benefits of concert attendance weren’t affected by age, background or how musical a person was. "It is of note that none of these biological changes were associated with age, musical experience or familiarity with the music being performed,” researchers write.
"This suggests there is a universal response to concert attendance among audience members.”