By: Alyssa Barry
Music has been proven to benefit people in a number of ways. People use music as a form of healing. It can also stimulate the mind intellectually as well as creatively. Another way music benefits people is through exercise. Music helps people get up and keep moving. Here are some ways music increases our motivation to exercise:
Author of ‘Inside Sport Psychology’ Dr. Costas Karageorphis conducted thorough research on the link between music and exercise. His findings proved that subjects who cycled in time with music needed 7% less oxygen to cycle at the same level compared to when music just plays in the background. This shows how music has the potential to increase your energy efficiency when performing physical activities like cycling. This advantage allows people to continue cycling for longer periods of time, increasing their endurance. This goes to show how synchronizing your workouts to music works well with endurance sports that involve repetitive movements.
Texas Tech University cardiologist Dr. Waseem Shami did a study looking into how music makes difficult workouts seem easier. Participants who listened to music while doing a cardiac stress test were able to continue for a minute longer than counterparts who didn’t listen to music. While energy efficiency is one factor why people can push themselves more when listening to music, physical drive is another. People are stimulated to move when listening to music. Dr. Shami goes on to say "this study provides some evidence that music may help serve as an extra tool to help motivate someone to exercise more—which is critical to heart health." Motivation is essential in cardiovascular sports like cycling where the mental game is a big factor.
We all know that listening to good music can improve our mood. Imogen Clark did a review looking at how music modulates physical activity, claiming that listening to music activates our brain by “eliciting two types of responses: a physical response and a mood-based response.” These responses happen simultaneously and influence your behavior during exercise in a way that improves participation. In short, music helps improve your mood, which in turn helps you perform better physically. Moreover, psychologists have begun to find connections between human performance and mental wellbeing. A post on psychology by Maryville University cites how mental wellbeing plays a massive role in helping people learn better. This is necessary in exercises like indoor cycling, yoga, or aerobics – ones that involve learning new movements. Music supports your mental wellbeing, which in turn allows you to acquire physical skills better.
Cycling instructors study their playlists because they understand that this affects how well their cyclists can keep pace with the beats in class. This works similarly to how drummers help dragon boat rowers move in unison without skipping a beat. Huff Post discusses how the rhythm of workout music stimulates the motor area of the brain in determining when to move. Thus, music gives you cues that help you keep a steady pace while exercising. Furthermore, moving in-sync with the tempo ensures that your movements don’t fluctuate throughout a sweat session as well, and gives you a continual burn. In order to yield optimal benefits, it’s best to cycle between 120 to 140 beats per minute.