They say music has the power to move us. Our favourite songs can elicit fond memories, taking us back to our favourite place, people, or moment in our lives.
So it’s not surprising that the right music can also take us around an extra lap of our favourite track, or fire you up enough to smash your Personal Best. To that end, there are numerous benefits of working out to music.
Music as a pace setter
We’ve all tapped our feet to a beat. It’s natural then, that walking or running to a beat feels good. In fact, regulating your stride to music may help you run more efficiently. Choose a track that will help you keep your rhythm. By gradually upping the tempo of your music playlist, you can increase the intensity of your cardio workout.
Music as a motivator
Motivation is where music can contribute most to the quality of a workout. A 2006 study of 30 volunteers at the University of Plymouth found that tempo and music volume contributed to an increase in performance; the louder and faster the music, the faster the test subjects ran.
The benefits of music are also evident in weight training. Researchers at Brunel University in London found that music with faster tempo and intensity before a workout improved reaction times. And a study at California State University found that self-selected music can impact your mood during strength training, and increase ‘explosive’ exercise performance.
But it’s not all just tempo and loudness. In 2009, The Sport Psychologist journal published a finding that showed tennis players recorded faster reaction times when they listened to songs with emotionally-charged lyrics, as opposed to music with just fast tempo and no lyrics.
Music as a distraction
Let’s face it, running with 20 minutes to go seems less appealing than running to the last five tracks of your favourite album. Be it a never-ending road or a tough climb, music can help distract you from fatigue or the monotony of your workout.
If there’s any doubt as to the effectiveness of music when exercising, consider this: 11 years ago, America’s governing body for distance racing, USA Track & Field, banned the use of personal music players to “prevent runners from having a competitive edge.” Gives new meaning to the term dope beats.