Most people will agree that listening to music not only motivates them during a workout, but also helps them work harder. Research conducted at Brunel University has confirmed
that listening to music while you exercise could increase your endurance by up to 15%. Research on the interplay of music and exercise dates to at least 1911, when American investigator Leonard Ayres found that cyclists pedaled faster while a band was playing than when it was silent. Since then, hundreds of studies have been preformed and here is what has been found:
- Tempo Matters: It affects what scientists call our “rhythm response”, which is basically how much a song makes you want to dance. Most people have an instinct to synchronize their movements and expressions with music—to nod their heads, tap their toes or break out in dance—even if they repress that instinct in many situations. In a recent survey of 184 college students, for example, the most popular types of exercise music were hip-hop (27.7 %), rock (24 %) and pop (20.3 %).
- Music Distracts from Fatigue: The human body is constantly monitoring itself. After a certain period of exercise—which varies by individual—physical fatigue begins to set in. The body recognizes signs of extreme exertion—rising levels of lactate in the muscles, a thumping heart, increased sweat production—and decides it needs a break. Music competes with this physiological feedback for the brain’s conscious attention, keeping you moving longer.
- Tailor to the correct BPM: Whatever musical style you favor, you might want to check the beats per minute (bpm) on an app. Choose songs that mirror your heart rate, depending on the level of exercise. For instance when warming up and cooling down, pick slower songs that have tempos within the 80-90 bpm range. As you pick up the pace to a moderately intense level, choose songs within the 120-140 bpm range are ideal. Studies have shown that songs over 140 bpm are unlikely to improve workouts because the body can’t mimic the pace.
- Be Mindful of Volume: High-intensity music coupled with high-intensity exercise can cause temporary hearing loss. The reason: during exercise, blood from the inner ear rushes toward the working muscles, making you more susceptible to hearing damage, so keep the volume level at a moderate level.