Have you ever wondered why after a long and tiring day your favourite tune can inspire your tired limbs to dance? Is it the beat, the lyrics, or simply the sound of the music that gets your blood pumping? For many people who exercise - jog, cycle, lift weights - music is essential to peak performance and a satisfying workout.
Although some people prefer audio books, podcasts or ambient sounds, especially if they do yoga, walk or Tai-chi for example, many others depend on rousing beats and stirring lyrics to keep themselves motivated when exercising. In fact, there are sound engineers who dedicate themselves to the task of creating stimulating music tracks for exercise videos and routines at the gym. This points to some type of relationship between exercise and music, as almost every exercise facility or personal trainer use music during their routines. But just what is the relationship between music and movement?
In a study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine which focused on the effects of slow-and fast-rhythm classical music on progressive cycling to voluntary physical exhaustion, conclusive evidence was given that music helps exercisers to dissociate from the annoying perception of fatigue, which is gradually amplified during progressive and or prolonged exercise. They noted that the type of music would have to be arousing to the exerciser to have a significant impact on their ability to sustain a high level of performance output during their workout.
Numerous universities and individuals have undertaken research papers and studies on the effects of music on exercising. Most have found that there is indeed a link between the two. In fact, at some point of your workout life you must have noticed the effects of music on your failing energy levels. Your “jam” plays and almost instantly you feel invigorated.
For those of you who work out in the gym doing spin or aerobics, have you ever noticed that as the intensity of the workout progresses the tempo of the music increases along with the beat of the music? And during the cool down session the music is changed to something with a slow beat that relaxes the mind and body.
Sports psychologists have discovered that specific genres of music are best suited to specific types of exercise and that listening to the wrong kind of music during your workout could hinder your performance. Their study found that rap music provides the best beats per minute for stretching and running, while dance music is more suited to strength training.
Pop music is best used during warm up and cool down, and rock music should be avoided during exercise due to frequent changes in tempo, which can affect your rhythm.
Studies have also found, though, that although music motivates you to exercise with greater efficiency, the motivational stimulus may be less effective when the human body has reached the peak of its endurance.