Many people simply cannot train without their favourite music playing but there is evidence to suggest that training to music can actually improve performance too. Marathon-runners will attest that music can be just as important as their running shoes and heart rate monitor for keeping going.
Running is a particular form of exercise which has become tied to music with many famous brands launching apps and other products to facilitate and combine the two. It’s clear it’s popular but more research is showing it can actually have a hugely positive impact on performance and endurance. Several studies have shown there is a direct link and below is a closer look at them.
Sports psychologist Costas Karageorghis from Brunel University has been researching and studying the compulsion to listen to music whilst on the go. As well as studying in his lab Karageorghis has developed a half-marathon in London which has the sole purpose of finding the perfect live music combination based on his extensive research into the human body’s reaction to rhythm. The Run to the Beat event is designed to further Karageorghis research but also gives runners the unique experience of enjoying live music whilst running. He even provided a playlist of songs scientifically shown to have a positive impact on performance.
Karageorghis has discovered that there are four key factors which contribute to a songs motivational ability:
Rhythm response and musicality are what are known as ‘internal’ factors which are related to the individual music’s structure whilst the second two are considered ‘external’ factors as they are a reflection of an individual’s interpretation of the music.
Rhythm response is tied directly to a song’s beats per minute (BPM) and how it matches with the runners heartbeat or their cadence. The structure of a song such as its melody and harmonies contribute to its overall musicality. The external factors are related to personal choice such as whether we prefer rock to pop and what we associate with particular artists. There are many benefits to picking the right music for exercising to.
Benefits of the Right Music
Synchronising BPM with a specific exercise pace will increase efficiency. Studies have shown that test subjects who cycled in time to music were found to require 7% less oxygen in comparison to those who simply cycled with music in the background. Music can also silence your brain’s messages telling you to quit through a disassociation effect. Music can result in a 10% reduction in perceive effort when using a treadmill to train at a moderate intensity.
The Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology published a further study which showed 30 test subjects synchronising their pace to the tempo of music with 125 BPM. Before the test took place a range of music was rated by a questionnaire tool and then the researchers were able to select the most motivational pieces for their treadmill test. Test subjects were allowed to choose between pop and rock music. These subjects were compared to a pool of no-music ones and the motivational synchronised music resulted in a 15% improvement in endurance and performance.
It has also been discovered that our heart rate relates to the speed of music we are most effective at. When hearts are performing at between 30% and 70% music with a BPM between 90 to 120 is preferred whilst a rhythm of between 120 and 150 BPM is preferred when we’re pushing ourselves to the 70-80% heart rate workout.
Research as a whole has concluded that we actually increase or decrease our work effort to keep in tempo with the music subconsciously. Finding the right tunes for your workout could make it significantly more effective.
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