Music Improves Exercise Endurance
By Lucy Clark, WLR
If you enjoy working out to your favourite tunes then you will be pleased to hear that it could help you have a better workout.
- Participants who listened to music whilst undertaking a cardiac stress test lasted almost 1 minute longer than those who did not listen to music
- Exercising to the specific beat of particular music can improve performance by 15%
- Music with a tempo of around 120-140 beats per minute can provide increased results when exercising
- Upbeat music can make people want to exercise longer and improve performance
Research conducted at Brunel University has confirmed that listening to music while you exercise could increase your endurance by up to 15%.
Many athletes routinely use music to enhance their workout but this is the first time that research has actually proved its benefits. People often plug into their MP3 players while running, using the gym, during aerobics as well as other class were instructors like to motivate people with a thumping bass line.
Now it seems that this could supply more than simply an aid to timing and something to divert attention from the burn.
Dr Costas Karageorghis latest research involved 30 participants exercising on a treadmill whilst listening to a selection of motivational rock or pop music, including tracks by Queen, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Madonna!
Participants were asked to keep in strict time with the beat.
Results and Limitations
Results found that those who ran along with the beat enhanced their performance by 15%. However, Dr Costas Karageorghis's found that only certain music genres aid the workout and some music is totally inappropriate.
There is also a pretty defined speed that must be adhered to and tracks should ideally be between 120 and 140 beats per minute to maximise the results. Dr Karageoghis has spent years working on the relationship between music and exercise and his findings were used to choose the tracks runners of the first Run To The Beat race would be lisntening to.
The ‘Run to the Beat’ London half marathon featured a number of music stations along the route, with tracks scientifically selected to help runners achieve their maximum potential.
The American College of Cardiology
Research conducted for the American College of Cardiology led by Waseem Shami, MD, from Texas Tech University Health Science in El Paso Texas focused this study on the cardiac stress test.
Cardiac stress tests help evaluate someone’s fitness level or readiness to start an exercise program, measure heart rate and blood pressure responses to exercise, assess symptoms of chest pain or heart rhythm changes during exercise, and help diagnose blockages in the heart’s arteries.
These are often done on a treadmill or stationary bike, while a person has electrodes placed on their chest to record the heart’s activity.
Participants were selcted randomly to take part in a teadmill stress test and well as a routine electrocardiogram (ECG).
A total of 127 participants took part and were aged 53, on average. The majority of participants were Hispanic, reflecting their patient population. The study also saw more females than males in both groups.
Those who took part were then assigned to either listen to upbeat music (Latin inspired), or have no music playing at all. All participants were then asked to wear headphones as a way to "blind" staff and clinicians monitoring the study.
Results and Limitations
Exercise was significantly longer in the music group compared with the control group, 505.8 verus 455.2 seconds, respectively - an absolute difference of about 50.6 seconds.
Shami believes the findings could apply to a wider population and help motivate people to follow recommendations for regular exercise for heart health.
“Our findings reinforce the idea that upbeat music has a synergistic effect in terms of making you want to exercise longer and stick with a daily exercise routine. When doctors are recommending exercise, they might suggest listening to music too.”
In reference to limitations, Shami explains that a larger study with greater diversity is needed to be able to determine whether offering music during stress testing can help people achieve their target heart rate and if it should be recommended as a tool to help people.
What you can do
- Listen to music
Music can have such a powerful effect on your mood that it’s hardly surprising that it can help boost endurance levels during exercise.
The fact that research now confirms this should be a real boost for both amateur and professional athletes, as they can push themselves that little bit further simply by playing the right soundtrack.
It seems that music helps to increase the actual enjoyment of the exercise as well, making it more of a pleasure than a chore.
- Smile while you exercise
A recent study has shown that participants who smile whilst exercising feel like they can achieve more! Although there are no phsycial signs of smiling improving exericse, psychologically it can help you achieve that feel good feeling that can keep you going!
- Experiment yourself!
The Run To The Beat event has a 5k and 10K option and is the first event that will provide scientifically-selected live musical accompaniment along the entire length of the course. Have a go and see if you feel more mtoviated by the music!
Workout to Music
Anyone who is using exercise as part of their weight loss programme will be particularly pleased by this news as it should give them that extra push when the going gets tough. Listening to music could prove to be a real boost and should help encourage people to venture out for a run or a workout.
If you're going out for a run, try running with a smile on your face! You may find that you're performance improves or find yourself feelling like you can do more!
Music is used in bars and restaurants, as well as at weddings and parties to increase everyone’s enjoyment of the event, so why not use it to aid exercise? If better results can be achieved without increasing the amount of time you work out for, then it’s definitely time to pump up the volume.
Use the WLR Exercise Diary to log any exercise that you do and how vigorously you do it. See what a difference good music can make to your exercise routines! Try the Exercise Diary free for 24 hours.