At Earhoox, we take music seriously. In fact we created our first product to ensure an uninterrupted listening experience. Music motivates and inspires us to work out and we know we’re not alone.
Now a growing body of research is detailing how music directly affects exercise. Here are five ways music affects physical movement.
1. Music improves motor coordination.
Exercising to music can help motor and movement coordination, such as moving to the beat of the music during a run, fitness class or in-home workout routine. When the body moves in sync with music, most people will experience a nice boost in self-awareness and self-confidence, which creates a positive connection to exercise in general.
2. Music boosts mental arousal.
Research has shown that there are direct connections between auditory neurons to motor neurons. “Altering the mind’s arousal state with music will result in an increased exercise performance, as if the music is ‘psyching’ one up to perform exercise better,” wrote researchers Karageorghis and Terry in their 1997 review of the psychophysical effects of music in sport and exercise.
3. Music can eliminate fatigue.
Research also indicates that music keeps us from focusing on the physical sensations of fatigue. There are various ways to distract a person from fatigue, as everyone’s personal fitness level plays a role, but music can help you push yourself harder during your workouts, especially if your AirPods aren’t falling out.
4. Music makes you faster.
Judy Edworthy and Hannah Waring at the University of Plymouth in the UK authored a 2006 study on the effects of music tempo and loudness. Using two variables, music tempo and music volume, Edworthy and Waring tested 30 “physically active” participants in five conditions (loud/fast, loud/slow, quiet/fast, quiet/slow, and no music) at a self-selected pace for 10min on a treadmill. The results showed that both loudness and tempo boosted the participants’ speeds and heart rates in a predictable manner. Louder and faster music resulted in the subjects selecting a faster treadmill pace than slower and quieter music.
5. Music increases relaxation.
“Some of the byproduct molecules of high-level exercise, such as acidosis and elevated hormones (which contribute to fatigue), may somehow be dampened by music, thus enhancing performance,” (Effects of Classical Music on Cycling to Exhaustion, 1998, Szmedra and Bacharach)
What to Know About Music and Exercise
Speed and tempo are the two most important factors that affect exercise intensity. It is ideal to start your warm-up with a slower song (120 to 126 bpm) and gradually increase the speed according to the type of exercise you will be doing. For weightlifting and general cardio, choose music that is between 128 to 135pm. For relaxation, choose music that is less than 100 bpm.
Motivation vs. Pain
There is a difference between fatigue and pain. It is important to listen to your body even with your AirPods plugged in. Sharp, stabbing, shooting or “hitting the wall” exhaustion should not be ignored, and you should monitor exercise accordingly.
Overall, when you are inspired you are more likely to exercise better and either maintain or increase motivation. From aiding performance to pushing your workout intensity up a few notches, music greatly influences movement.
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