Music and exercise can both affect autonomic nervous system activity. However, the effects of the combination of music and exercise on autonomic activity are poorly understood. Additionally, it remains unknown whether music affects post-exercise orthostatic tolerance. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of music on autonomic nervous system activity in orthostatic tolerance after exercise. Twenty-six healthy graduate students participated in four sessions in a random order on four separate days: a sedentary session, a music session, a bicycling session, and a bicycling with music session. Participants were asked to listen to their favorite music and to exercise on a cycle ergometer. We evaluated autonomic nervous system activity before and after each session using frequency analysis of heart rate variability. High frequency power, an index of parasympathetic nervous system activity, was significantly increased in the music session. Heart rate was increased, and high frequency power was decreased, in the bicycling session. There was no significant difference in high frequency power before and after the bicycling with music session, although heart rate was significantly increased. Additionally, both music and exercise did not significantly affect heart rate, systolic blood pressure or also heart rate variability indices in the orthostatic test. These data suggest that music increased parasympathetic activity and attenuated the exercise-induced decrease in parasympathetic activity without altering the orthostatic tolerance after exercise. Therefore, music may be an effective approach for improving post-exercise parasympathetic reactivation, resulting in a faster recovery and a reduction in cardiac stress after exercise.
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