People come up with all types of creative excuses to get out of a workout: Maybe you’re too tired, can’t find the motivation, or just find exercising too uncomfortable, exhausting, or boring.
But a new small study published in Frontiers in Psychology on Wednesday adds to a growing body of research that music may have the power to take your mind off all that discomfort and help push you through a workout.
Listening to high tempo music during exercise can distract you and make your workouts seem less challenging, ultimately making them more impactful, according to the study.
If you want to go longer and harder at the gym, it might be time to jazz up your playlist.
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To understand how music affects people’s workouts, researchers from Italy evaluated 19 women who participated in endurance activities, such as walking, jogging, or biking, and high-intensity workouts, such as weightlifting or using a leg press.
The women exercised under four conditions: without music, with slow music, with fairly high tempo music, and extremely fast-paced music at a high BPM (beats per minute). The researchers measured the women’s heart rates during their workouts and subsequently asked them how they felt about exercising to the various types of music.
They found that those who listened to the high tempo music experienced the highest heart rates and also perceived their workout as less difficult.
These effects were most notable in those performing endurance workouts, such as walking or running, compared to those participating in high-intensity exercises.
“The results demonstrate that the beneficial effects of music are more likely to be seen in endurance exercise. Consequently, music may be considered an important tool to stimulate people engaging in low intensity physical exercise,” the researchers stated in the report.
Committing to exercise can be a daunting task for many.
“I think we have put such a negative perception to exercise, as another to-do to be thin, lose weight, burn calories,” said Sharon Zarabi, a fitness trainer and registered dietitian with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. “If we took away the emphasis from ‘dieting and weight loss,’ we may actually enjoy it for all its other benefits, including lowering blood pressure, improving sleep, enhancing digestion, reducing stress, [and] lowering blood sugars.”
If you struggle with getting through a workout, try blasting some music.
“Music may help people enjoy their workouts more and act as motivational tool for people to get to the gym more and complete their workouts,” said Joshua Slysz, an exercise physiologist and postdoctoral researcher at Northwestern University.
Previous research has also shown that music has a profound impact on the mind and body.
A study from 2017Trusted Source found that music can increase how long people exercise. Another study from 2019 found that music makes us enjoy our workouts more, and a study from 2006Trusted Source discovered that while listening to fast-paced, loud music, people running on treadmills ran faster and farther.
There’s a couple reasons as to why music can improve how we exercise.
As this new study shows, people who listened to music also saw an increased heart rate, which can make a workout more effective and beneficial.
“Heart rate is a great variable to measure your exercise intensity. The higher your exertion, the harder your heart is working,” Zarabi said.
She added that music also improves our mood. It increases our serotonin levelsTrusted Source (the happiness hormone), which makes any experience feel better, even working out.
“There’s tons of research studies supporting the effects of music and mood, and hey… who needs it to be published? Just check in with yourself, and see how you feel with some beats,” Zarabi said.
It also makes us want to grooveTrusted Source. A catchy song can make you tap your foot, clap your hands, dance — moving and music go hand in hand.
“The synchronization between your stride, pedal, cycle, step in endurance sports makes it more harmonious and less stressful,” Zarabi said.
While the study showed the effects were more pronounced during endurance activities, music may be beneficial in all exercises.
“Even though high BPM did not work to distract from the discomfort during weightlifting, people should not be discouraged against listening to music during weightlifting, as music may also improve your mood and allow for a more enjoyable weightlifting workout,” Slysz said.
So, if you’re dreading your next workout, put together a powerful playlist and let the music push you through.
A new study from Italy found that listening to high tempo music during exercise can distract you and make your workouts seem less challenging, ultimately making them more beneficial. Music has been shown to have profound effects on the mind and body: It lifts our mood, increases our heart rate, and makes us want to groove. For those who struggle with completing a workout, music may be a powerful tool.