A study published last month in Frontiers in Psychology found that high-tempo music during exercise can have many benefits, including reduced fatigue and improved performance.
The study followed 19 female participants between the ages of 24 and 31 who regularly exercised three to five times per week. Each participant was measured for their mass, height, BMI, and heart rate. The study required all 19 participants to complete two training exercises four times each. Each time the tests were conducted, the participants were randomly selected to listen to music of varying tempos.
The first exercise was a low intensity endurance task where participants had to walk on a treadmill at 6.5 km/hr for ten minutes. During and after the test was complete, the participants’ heart rate and level of fatigue was measured.
The second test involved a high intensity exercise on the leg press machine, measuring how many repetitions could be completed. Just like the first test, their heart rates were taken during and after the test.
The results found that high tempo music helps in the performance of endurance tasks and reduces the presence of fatigue from exercise. This is partly due to the stimulation of the cortical and sub-cortical parts of the brain, effecting emotional responses, movement coordination, and movement planning. The rhythm of the music appears to help in error correction, since the rhythm of movement seems to become aligned with the rhythm of the music.
All regions of the brain are affected by the presence of music so the brain can’t ignore it. The music distracts the brain from uncomfortable feelings like muscle fatigue and/or tension and helps regulate heart and breathing rates. Endurance tasks were more affected by high tempo music since low intensity exercise requires more thought and participants were more aware of their fatigue. Therefore, the high tempo music distracted the brain and reduced the negative thoughts that come in low intensity exercises.
This research can be used to adjust your exercise routine and improve your fitness results. People who have a hard time with fatigue or stress during low intensity exercise should listen to higher tempo music. High tempo music will have benefits no matter the exercises you do and should be considered an important part of your exercise regimen.