For loads of people, it’s second nature.
Before a workout they grab a few key essentials. Their runners. Water. And, of course, some music.
If you’re one of those people who can’t imagine pounding the pavement without your favourite tunes, you’re onto a good thing. That’s because research keeps piling up in favour of listening to beats while working out.
Popping on your favourite music while exercising doesn’t just make it more enjoyable. It can also take your session to the next level and have positive ripple effects on other areas of your life.
Here’s how music can transform your work-out:
It increases endurance
You’ve been working out for a while and you’ve hit a wall. It’s so tempting to slow your run to a stroll, hop off the elliptical trainer or simply pack up your gym gear.
But focusing on your tunes can help you hang in there, suggests research published in The Sport Journal.
The study found that music can increase endurance and help exercisers derive more pleasure from the activity.
Researcher Dr Costas Karageorghis said the “motivational qualities” of music impacts significantly on people’s interpretation of fatigue symptoms.
Instead of quitting when the going got tough, participants were able to power through.
So next time you’re up against that wall, skip to your favourite track and let your music help push you through the burn.
It helps get you ‘in the zone’
Ah, ‘the zone’.
That elusive sweet spot we all hope to reach when sweating it out. There’s nothing like being ‘in the zone’ to help you conquer your training goals.
The good news is that getting there may be as simple as popping on your favourite tunes.
Such were the findings presented at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference.
For the study, researchers questioned the effects of music on 64 athletes, both before and during training, and before competitions or races.
“By playing their favourite tunes, we found that participants’… sense of being ‘in the zone’ increased when compared to listening to no music at all,” said researcher Dr Alexandra Lamont from Keele University.
It improves adherence
Listening to the right songs can help you stick to your workout regime, suggests a 2015 study published in Sports Medicine – Open.
The study looked at people undergoing cardiac rehab following a heart event. While cardiac rehab is proven to improve long-term survival in such groups, these programs have a high dropout rate.
Researchers therefore wanted to know if giving people playlists of music they enjoyed (and that had tempos matched to their pre-determined running or walking speed) made a difference to whether they continued the program.
They found that participants who listened to such tunes did an average of 105.4 minutes more exercise than those who didn’t listen to music.
Sport Psychologist Georgia Ridler says this finding can be extrapolated to apply to anyone.
This is because music triggers the mood centre of the brain, “flooding” it with feel-good hormones such as serotonin.
By making you feel good, she says you’re then more likely to stick to your sessions.
It boosts brain power
Immersing yourself in music isn’t just good for your body. According to research published in the journal Heart & Lung in 2004 it can also give your brain a lift.
For the study, researchers asked participants to complete a verbal fluency test both before, and after, two separate treadmill sessions.
Those who listened to music while exercising performed more than twice as well in their verbal fluency test afterwards.
“The combination of music and exercise may stimulate and increase cognitive arousal while helping to organise cognitive output,” said the study’s lead author, Charles Emery, who is a professor of psychology at Ohio State University.
It makes working out more enjoyable
Perhaps the most important influence music can have on your workout is that, quite simply, it makes exercise fun.
While that means you can enjoy training more, it also has implications on how you behave after.
This was demonstrated in research performed in 2014, published in the journal Marketing Letters.
The study required participants to go for a two-kilometre walk.
One group was told it was an ‘exercise walk,’ while the other group was informed it was a ‘scenic walk’.
Those who were told the purpose of the outing was ‘exercise’ felt more fatigued and less happy after.
They also overindulged, consuming 124% more chocolate than the group who viewed the same activity as being ‘scenic’.
This led researcher Brian Wansink, Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, to declare the importance of making exercise fun for both its effect on your workout, and its follow-on effects in other areas of your life, such as food intake.
“Do whatever you can to make your workout fun,” he implored.
“Play music, watch a video, or simply be grateful that you’re working out instead of working in the office.”
So next time you head out for a workout, remember to take some key essentials with you.
Your runners. Water.
And, of course, that all-important tool to help you get the most out of your session: some music.
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