Why listen to music while you exercise?
A mood booster – Music can elevate your mood, and it fosters a positive outlook towards exertion. It can also diminish negative aspects of mood, such as tension and fatigue.
A pace setter - You can use music to control the speed and intensity of your run, because your body naturally wants to follow the beat. If the music is fast, uplifting, invigorating and catchy, you might be motivated to exercise harder, and longer.
A pleasant distraction - Music is a pleasant distraction from the physical effort of running. By focusing on something you like, you’ll be less likely to experience the discomfort that can hold you back and slow down your running speed.
Recent research has also looked at impact of music on your performance during exercise.
The science of music
A scientific analysis of research into exercise and music reported in the journal International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology found a clear link between music and athletic performance.
They researchers reported on a study which measured the performance of runners over 20 minutes where participants listened to either techno dance music or silence. Faster lap times were recorded while runners listened to music.
Another study tested the effects of music tempo on running speed during 10 minute trials, and found that fast musical accompaniment led to faster running speeds than either slow music or white noise. The researchers also concluded that music has more of an influence on un-trained compared to trained individuals, and it also has more of an impact at sub-maximal rather than maximal levels of exertion.
Find the right music to help you move
- Find tunes to fire you up – Listening to motivational tunes before you train or race may have a positive effect. Study subjects who listened to the Rocky theme song before a 60 metre dash ran faster times compared to participants who were instructed to wait in silence for a minute before the run. It was concluded that pre-task music (stimulatory music) can heighten arousal, both physically and mentally.
- Compile a workout playlist – Load up your phone or portable listening device with a playlist of upbeat songs that motivate you while you run. The key is to find songs you enjoy, tunes that make you want to push yourself harder during a run.
- Use slow tunes to cool down – Just as fast music can boost your intensity, slower music is ideal for cooling down, or stretching at the end of your run. When compared to listening to no music, classical music has been shown to reduce heart rate and blood pressure in runners. This allows the body to relax and release muscular tension, helping to improve muscle recovery .
- Keep the volume down - When listening to music while running outdoors, make sure the volume is at a level where you can still hear the sounds around you, such as an approaching car or barking dog. Lower volume levels will also prevent any damage to your hearing. Another good tip is to only wear a single ear bud, leaving your other ear to keep you safe and alert.
References available on request