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Heartbeat Poetry

Verse speaks to matters of the heart--literally
READING POETRY



KEVIN FLEMING Corbis

Reciting the Iliad could have epic effects on your health. German physiologists have recently shown that such poetry can get your heart beating in time with your breaths. This synchronization may improve gas exchange in the lungs as well as the body's sensitivity and responsiveness to blood pressure changes.

Cardiovascular and respiratory responses are not normally in sync. Rhythmic fluctuations in blood pressure take place naturally in 10-second-long cycles known as Mayer waves, whereas spontaneous breathing normally occurs at a rate of approximately 15 breaths per minute.

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