Music is an integral part of workouts especially with the availability of portable, wireless devices which don’t bring about any physical restrictions to your workout. The advance in music technology has brought the world’s music to our fingertips which are already loaded with playlists built especially to soundtrack your exercise routine.
Ever been approaching that final rep or that final mile with the theme tune from Rocky on full volume? Then you would have experienced the effect of music on your workout performance first hand.
A huge majority of people listen to workout music when they’re carrying out their fitness routine, but why is to so effective? Several studies have investigated this exact question - we’ve rounded up the key takeaways from these research papers for you to digest below.
Music is a ‘distractor’
Sport’s psychologist Costas Karagerorghis made a case for music improving exercise performance “by either delaying or increasing work capacity”. Like chemicals, ‘distractors’ can influence pain levels. When you are enthralled by a particular chorus or the flow of a certain rapper, your body and mind is distracted to such a degree that the aching sensations felt in exercise are numbed.
Music releases ‘good’ chemicals in the brain
When we’re listening to music in our day-to-day lives, chemical opioids are released in the brain, a study found that opioid signals in the brain increase significantly when listening is paired with physical exercise. This combination allows an enhanced flow of chemical opioids to be transferred to the brain which reflects a similar effect to painkillers according to the New Scientist. This means that any natural pains and aches you feel as you’re exercising subsides when listening to music.
The impact of BPM and Tempo
We all have a rhythm response innate within us, it works at its peak when we’re listening to music with a strong beat and fast BPM. If you’ve ever felt that urge to tap your feet or dance - that’s your body’s rhythm response kicking in! In exercise the rhythm response can help us to lock the movements we make in exercise into a tight tempo which allows us to maintain coordination and pace.
Researchers in a study published in the Journal Sports Medicine-Open found that individuals who listened to music tailored to the specific workout performed better than those exercising without music.
Some workouts actually use music as an integral part of the routine. For example, Zumba is performed in reaction to the fast, euphoric rhythms of Latin music to encourage participants to work up a sweat.
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