When you are about to get on the elliptical machine and you turn on your iPod to hear some of your favorite songs, you’re probably thinking that your work out music is simply helping to pass the time; Perhaps music distracts you from thinking about the fact that you’re actually going to be working out for the next 30 minutes to an hour. But in fact, music does help the exercise pace to flow more smoothly. Besides, after only about five songs, you’ve already worked around 20-25 minutes; but there are reported studies that music and exercise indicate that it does a lot more than that.
What do the scientists say about music and exercise?
For several years, many neuroscientists have come to the conclusion that music and exercise are intimately related because music helps boost your immune system. How? Well, it has been scientifically proven that work out music reduces stress by lowering the cortisol levels in the body. When your stress levels are low, your immune system has the ability to work at more optimal levels. As a direct result, workout music assists you in exercising more intensely, and over a longer stretch of time.
A couple of years ago, a music and exercise study was conducted in Britain among several cyclists. They were asked to ride a bike for 30 minutes while listening to six songs. What they didn’t know was that the people conducting the study had slowed down the tempo just enough for their brains to pick it up during a part of the workout. When the music was playing at a slower tempo, so did the intensity of the cyclists’ body movements, which caused their heart rates to drop along with their mileage. The conclusion that was reached was that 36% of them performed better to up-tempo music, even though a faster pace caused the level of difficulty with the exercising to significantly increase.
More evidence on the effectiveness of work out music
According to another music and exercise study that was released a few years ago at Brunel University in West London, bike riding also causes cyclists to need close to 8% less oxygen and runners to increase 15% when it came to their levels of endurance.
And still, there is another more simplified conclusion that many scientists have come to as well: our bodies, sometimes even subconsciously, move to the beat of music, which automatically causes our breathing and heart rate to increase. This encourages a biochemical reaction even before the brain is able to fully catch wind of what is going on. In other words, with the help of an upbeat work out music, the body tells the mind to move, which is why it’s easier for a song listener to get into the gear than someone who may be exercising without a work out music.
This would help to explain why soft rock, bluegrass or R&B, is helpful during opening stretching exercises and wind-downs, while dance music, pop rock, hip hop and rap, are probably what your body will gravitate more towards during your high intensity workout.
Even with all of the information that’s provided, there is still research being conducted to provide additional concrete evidence that music and exercise are a marriage made in heaven when it comes to people successfully completing their intensity workouts. But in the meantime, if you need your own proof, try running for an hour without playing a ringtone on your cell phone, or put on your favorite work out music, and see how long you last. When it comes to answering the question of whether or not work out music impacts your the intensity of your performance that might just be all of the convincing that you’ll need!