If you have ever listened to music while exercising, you know that it is an excellent motivator. Music not only makes working out more enjoyable, the right beat can help to propel movement. Anyone who regularly exercises to music can attest to its power… but now science is catching up and helping us understand why.
Popular culture has long suspected that music enhances physical performance. Since the Walkman’s debut in 1980, music has become a reliable companion to a wide array of sportsmen and women. Why? It’s more enjoyable! But it also turns out there are very real psychological and physiological reasons that music pairs well with exercise.
Music and Physiology We all intuitively know that people "feel the beat,” and this beat can lead to increased or decreased movement tempos. Studies at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse and the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University essentially prove this “feel the beat” theory. A 2009 study at John Moores University monitored subjects riding stationary bikes. The study started with a control – subjects rode their bikes for 30 minutes listening to a song of their choice. Then the scientists explored how a 10% increase in tempo and 10% decrease in tempo (without the rider’s knowledge) affected performance. The decrease slowed the riders, while an increase in tempo resulted in increased heart rates and mileage. Most interestingly, the riders reported that the faster rides were more enjoyable even if they were more challenging. One scientist noted "the participants chose to accept, and even prefer, a greater degree of effort".
A separate Ohio State study showed that listening to music while exercising leads to longer workouts. This study monitored walkers and found that those who listened to music walked on average 4 more miles than those who did not listen to music. Why did these walkers keep going? The walk was simply more enjoyable with music. Music does something to our metal state – our brain waves – that makes exercise more pleasurable.
Music and Your Brain Music psychology is the branch of psychology that aims to explain the musical experience using empirical data. Music psychologists explore the neurology behind music composition, music therapy, music in retail, and music’s influence over performance. These scientists focus on what music does to brain waves (rather than increasing run times), but their findings show that music has a very real impact on brain functionality.
Many runners and athletes will attest that a little music can clear the mind, freeing the athlete from worrying about the mundane and focus on the activity at hand. A study published on ABC's Technology and Science shows that listening to music not only improves athletic performance, it can improve brain functionality as a whole. Participants who listened to music while exercising performed more than twice as well on a verbal fluency compared to those who did not. It also showed that exercising with music increased mental capacity in aging adults.
Bottom Line: Music not only improves athletic performance and makes exercising more enjoyable… it improves brain functionality! If this doesn’t have you reaching for your headphones the next time you head out for a run, we don’t know what will. Keep Moving! - The Red Fox Team About Red Fox Wireless: www.RedfoxWireless.com specialized in wireless audio for athletes and outdoors enthusiasts. Founded on a passion for audio in motion, Red Fox’s product line includes wire-free headphones, speakers, phone sleeves, Bluetooth transmitters, and accessories perfect for people who want performance that keeps up with their lifestyle.