Music and Exercise

music and exerciseA lot of people exercise to music and some go so far as to dedicate a whole playlist on their iPod to workouts. I personally do this and I find that it gets me pumped for my workout sessions. Listening to music while I exercise seems to make my workouts feel less difficult and more enjoyable. This may not only be my experience because as it turns out scientists have studied the effects that music has on the experience of exercising.

Makes Exercise Easier

A study done at Bloomsburg University was designed to see the mental and physical effects that listening to music during exercise caused. This study involved 10 test subjects who completed two workouts.

dj playing music

  • One workout involved exercising on a treadmill at a relatively high pace for 15 minutes while listening to music.
  • The second workout was the same as the first only the test subjects did not listen to music.
  • Every 3 minutes during each workout the researchers recorded how difficult the test subjects thought the workout was.

They found that listening to music made running on a treadmill feel less difficult. They also found that listening to music lowered the test subjects’ heart rates and blood pressure during exercise which may mean music reduces stress during exercise. These results offer some proof that listening to music during exercise can make the experience more enjoyable.

The Kind of Music May Matter

Researchers at the University of North Carolina also wanted to test the effects of exercising while listening to music.

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  • This study involved 8 trained and 8 untrained runners who were asked to exercise at a low, moderate and high intensity.
  • They exercised without listening to music, while listening to fast music and while listening to relaxing music.

This study found that the untrained runners felt better when listening to fast music during low and high intensity exercise. They didn’t see the same effects in trained runners. This study suggests that music can make exercise more enjoyable at least to the average person.

Reduces Anxiety

Another study done at the University of Rome Foro Italico wanted to see how exercising without music could reduce feelings of anxiety compared to exercising with music. This study involved 13 trained and 13 untrained university students who exercised on a treadmill until they were completely exhausted. They completed this workout while listening to music and without listening to music.

lady listening to music

Researchers found that exercising with music reduced feelings of anxiety more than exercising without music. They also found that exercising with music increased the amount of time the untrained test subjects were able to exercise for. These results suggest listening to music during exercise can help control feelings of anxiety and can also increase the amount of time you can exercise.

Improves Recovery

It seems pretty clear at this point that music can improve your experience during exercise but a study done at Bar-Ilan University was designed to see how listening to music after exercise could help people recover from their workout. The researchers in this study had 20 active men run for 6 minutes at a very high pace on two different occasions.

On one occasion they listened to music as they recovered from the workout and on the other occasion they did not listen to music as they recovered. The researchers found that listening to music during a recovery period made recovery feel easier. Since recovery felt easier the test subjects did a little extra walking after their workout which led to less of something called lactate in the blood. These results suggest that listening to music while you recover from exercise can enhance recovery.

If you don’t enjoy exercising as much as you would like to you may want to give listening to music during workouts a try.

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