Listening to fast music when exercising brings the heart rate up and the tiredness to a minimum, according to new research.
The music has remarkable properties for many of us. One moment it can leave us wistful, and then fill us with energy the next.
Most people find that music often makes exercise more enjoyable and a research has now shown that music with faster tempos will offer two distinct advantages.
During exercise listening to up-tempo music maximizes its health benefits by rising the heart rate and reducing the sense of effort.
The motivation for the new study
Music as the adage goes, is a universal language.
While experiential and cultural factors influence our musical preferences, there are some simple musical qualities in people everywhere that seem to evoke similar responses.
Rhythm, tempo, melody, and harmony are the most important of these, with lyric and genre effects not being universal.
In Frontiers in Psychology, the new study explicitly looks at the influence of higher tempos, which implies faster music.
The researchers notably note that “the relationship between music tempo and effort perception during different metabolic demands is still uncertain.”
Studying music tempo and exercise
The researchers recruited 19 female volunteers, from 24 to 31 years of age.
They all actively participated in physical activity three to five days a week, and a significant percentage of them worked in physical fitness. Every adult had completed a minimum of 1 year of fitness training.
The researchers divided the activities of the exercise into two types: aerobic exercise, such as treadmill work, and high intensity training, such as weightlift.
The investigators calculated height and body mass index (BMI) to establish a baseline for each participant. Additionally, they noticed the degree of training experience of the participants (stamina, high intensity exercise, or both) and their overall heart rate.
The participants finished two different workout sessions, which were held on different days. Another session was about endurance, and the other was about high intensity training.
The participants performed a routine four times over each session. The researchers used a different condition of the music each time. Three of these requirements employed pop music, while the fourth did not include music.
The pop songs that the participants heard were at three different tempos:
- low: 90–110 beats per minute (bpm)
- medium: 130–150 bpm
- high: 170–190 bpm
To obtain a clear representation the researchers arbitrarily shuffled the order of the music conditions.
During the endurance exercise, the individuals walked for 10 minutes on a treadmill at 6.5 kilometers per hour (km / h) to achieve a steady state of exertion.
During the exercise the experimenters measured the heart rate of the subjects, and they estimated and reported the average and peak heart rate at the end of the test.
Each participant also recorded the amount of fatigue they perceived.
Each volunteer performed a cumulative test of one repetition on a leg press machine during the high-intensity session.
Begin with a raise in body weight, the load increased until the person was no longer able to perform 10 repetitions. The researchers have noted the maximum charge at this level.
The participants once again listed their fatigue levels.
The study’s findings
The most pronounced beneficial effect of higher tempo music was when the participants were engaged in endurance exercise.
As author Luca P. Ardigò of the University of Verona in Italy puts it, “We found that listening to high tempo music while exercising resulted in the highest heart rate and the lowest perceived exertion compared to not listening to music.”
“This means that the exercise seemed like less effort, but it was more beneficial in terms of enhancing physical fitness.”– Luca P. Ardigò
The interpretation of the study results is that music at high tempos will make exercise both easier and more efficient for runners, walkers and cyclists.
The authors cite hints from earlier research that could explain why music has this impact.
We note that “repeated movements seem to be related to the phases between beats of pulse music, causing a feedback / forward loop” and that rhythm may even lead to improved execution of motion.
They also note research showing that “music controls processes in the autonomic nervous system and can be used to monitor the cardiovascular system in terms of both[ heart rate] and blood pressure.”
The authors point out that certain disadvantages do occur in their research. The primary one of these is the narrowness of the profile of the group-all participants were physically fit adults.
Hopefully, future research should include other groups, including men, untrained people, the elderly and teenagers. Tempo is of course just one musical feature as well.
“We studied the impact of music tempo in exercise in the current study,” says Ardigò, “but in the future, we would also like to study the effects of other music characteristics, such as genre, melody, or lyrics, on endurance and high intensity exercise.”