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Music has a Profound Effect on Exercise!


If you play music when you work out or attend group fitness classes, you know just how much music affects your workout. Is it all in your head or does music have a physiological and psychological effect on exercise performance?


According to the research music can dramatically change the perception of intensity and drive effort during a workout depending on the music choice. Upbeat and fast tempo music seems to elicit a heart rate response and can stimulate physiological preparation for work. Tempos of 140 to 190 beats per minute, typically used in group exercise and cycling classes, enhances endurance, according to findings published in Frontiers in Psychology (2020). The perception of mental fatigue and perceived effort is lessened when listening to upbeat music.

Music appears to evoke a pleasant association, while masking unpleasant stimuli such as rapid breathing associated with exercise, allowing you to work out for a longer period of time without realizing the effort. This may lead to greater compliance with exercise.


Music can be a distraction and according to the research, music may temporarily take an exerciser's mind away from some of the body’s internal cues typically associated with tiredness.


The beat or rhythm of the music changes the tempo of movement as subconsciously the mind wants to move to the music. As the music temp increases the movement speed will adapt. Research performed with stroke patients shows an improvement in walking skills when music was used in rehab. A review of the literature suggested that the beat in music might improve gait regularity by allowing individuals to find a desired rate of movement (Kravitz 1994). The rhythm and percussion of auditory cues may have a positive effect on coordinated walking and proprioceptive control.


In summary research in the effects of music on performance and exercise supports the following four areas. Music facilitates of exercise performance by:

1. Reducing the feeling of fatigue

2. Increasing the levels of psychological arousal

3. Improving motor coordination

4. Creating physiological excitation or relaxation based on the music selection


So, turn on the tunes and gain the advantage of exercising to music. Join a group fitness, cycling and yoga class to feel the benefits music has on your exercise outcome!


Helen Vanderburg

Trainer, Coach, Instructor and Co-owner of The ACADEMY

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