Music makes exercise easier for both body and mind

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Do you like to listen to music while you’re putting in time at the gym? Maybe you prefer catching up on your favorite podcast, or would rather listen to nothing but the sound of your rapidly beating heart. Whatever the case, there’s now a new reason why you should consider switching to music for your workout sessions.

A new study recently published research determining that motivational and upbeat music can have a significant effect on both exercise enjoyment, and performance.

The study was conducted by Matthew J. Stork, a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Health and Sciences at The University of British Colombia. You can access the full study, “Let’s Go: Psychological, psychophysical, and physiological effects of music during sprint interval exercise”, here. 

This recent study is just one more piece of the growing amount of evidence that listening to music enhances motivation during exercise.

“Let’s Go” Study

The purpose of the “Let’s Go” study was to determine whether music improved performance and state of mind for subjects who were infrequent exercisers. To do this, Stork and his team gathered twenty-four insufficiently active adults (12 men, 12 women), and had them complete three sets of Sprint Interval Training (SIT) under different conditions. The three conditions consisted of subjects listening to motivational music, podcasts, and no audio.

If you’ve ever been on a sports team, or gotten serious about exercise, you’re probably already familiar with Sprint Interval Training. It’s when you try to squeeze all of the work into short bursts of all-out effort. For the purposes of the study, subjects completed three 20-second sprints with two minutes of recovery between them. That’s one-minute of an all-out workout for participants inexperienced with this kind of training.

Highlights

Here are some of the key highlights Stork discovered during this study.

  • Motivational music enhanced affect and enjoyment of sprint interval training (SIT).
  • Heart rate and peak power output were elevated during SIT in the music condition.
  • Perceived exertion was similar across music, podcast, and no-audio SIT conditions.
  • Participants liked, and were motivated by, the researcher-selected music during SIT.

Results

The study found that post-exercise enjoyment was greater in the music condition compared to podcast and no-audio. Overall, listening to music was correlated with a higher level of performance.

Let’s reiterate something. Sprint Interval Training is not fun. Pushing yourself  to your limits over and over can be exhausting. Despite this, participants reported greater enjoyment of SIT while listening to music. But music didn’t only boost morale. The study found that it also increased the heart rate of participants.

“The application of music during SIT has the potential to enhance feelings of pleasure, improve enjoyment, and elevate performance of SIT for adults who are insufficiently active, which may ultimately lead to better adherence to this type of exercise.”

If you’re one of the many who struggle with motivation when it comes to exercise, consider adding music next time. It can help you build up the “mental toughness” required to push yourself through a workout. More importantly, it can leave you feeling better at the end, which will make it more likely that a regular exercise routine will stick.

 

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