If you’ve ever been to the gym, you’ll notice that it’s pretty typical for the gym to have music playing over the speakers while you workout. Some people even prefer their own music and typically workout with headphones, but why are we drawn to listen to music when we’re exercising?
There have been several studies performed on how music inspires a better workout and the result is actually pretty simple.
Rhythm & Tempo
If you’ve ever played an instrument, or are just really into music, then you’ve noticed that rhythm is everywhere. The easiest and most well-known example of this is the rhythm of our heart. By nature, humans are connected to rhythm, so it’s no surprise that the rhythm, and tempo, of music can have an impact on your workout.
Research has shown that the tempo of the music you’re listening to can change the effectiveness of your workout. This isn’t because music necessarily affects your workout directly, but rather it affects your psyche which plays a huge role in your workout.
Picture it this way. In most cases, if you’re getting ready to do yoga, you’re more than likely not going to put on fast-paced music, just as if you’re going to do an intense workout, you’re probably not going to put on slow jazz. We typically end up pacing ourselves with the tempo of the music. According to studies, the best tempo for cycling is between 125-140 bpm (beats per minute.) If you’re looking to run on the treadmill, the suggested tempo is between 123-131 bpm. This will allow you to sync what you’re doing with the music.
Music Provides A Distraction
Playing the right type of music during your workout can also inspire a better workout because the music becomes a distraction. A study published in May of 2015 compared three different groups of people during their workout. One group was told to workout without any music at all, one group was given a random assortment of music, and the third group was given a playlist of music that was curated specifically to a certain tempo that matched their workout.
The findings of this study were incredible, as the group with the specific music playlist ended up working out, on average, about 261 more minutes a week than the other groups. Part of the reason this happened is because the music created a tempo that was easy to sync your workout with, and also because the music fitting with the workout provided a distraction from the pain and sweat that the group was feeling.
When focused on the music, it becomes easier to push through the hard times, especially because the music can also help your workout feel as though it’s going faster than it would without the tempo specific music.
Whether you’ve thought about the psychological effects of music in detail or not, you probably know that music can affect your hormones. When we’re sad we can listen to songs that keep us sad or make us feel better. When we’re happy we typically enjoy listening to music that continues to make us happy, but when a song comes on that reminds you of a bad time in life, it can trigger negative feelings out of seemingly nowhere.
Music has the ability to create feelings of pleasure and displeasure. One study showed that when people listen to music they enjoy, their bodies produced a higher level of serotonin, which is known for making us feel good. It also has the ability to cause changes in our behavior and even change our thought processes. This is why music can have either a positive or negative effect on your workout. Be selective when creating your music playlist and remember to choose songs that fit your workout mood and the type of workout you’re performing.