In a new study, researchers found that listening to music at a higher tempo reduces the perceived effort involved in exercise and increases its benefits.
These effects were greater for endurance exercises, such as walking than for high-intensity exercises, such as weightlifting.
The researchers hope that the findings could help people to increase and improve their exercise habits.
The research was conducted by a team from the University of Verona in Italy.
Many people listen to music while exercising and previous studies have documented some of the benefits.
For instance, music can distract from fatigue and discomfort and increase participation in exercise.
However, “how” we experience music is highly subjective, with cultural factors and personal preferences influencing its effects on individuals.
Music is multifaceted with various aspects such as rhythm, lyrics, and melody contributing to the experience.
Until now, researchers did not understand the specific properties of music that affect us during exercise, including which types of music are best suited to enhancing certain types of exercise.
In the study, the team examined the effect of the tempo of a piece of music on female volunteers performing either an endurance exercise (walking on a treadmill) or a high-intensity exercise (using a leg press).
The volunteers completed exercise sessions in silence, or while listening to pop music at different tempos.
The researchers recorded a variety of parameters, including the volunteers’ opinions about the effort required to complete the exercises and their heart rate while exercising, as a higher heart rate would mean that the exercise was more beneficial for physical fitness.
They found that listening to high-tempo music while exercising resulted in the highest heart rate and lowest perceived exertion compared with not listening to music.
This means that the exercise seemed like less effort, but it was more beneficial in terms of enhancing physical fitness.
These effects were more noticeable in volunteers completing the endurance exercise sessions, compared with those performing high-intensity exercises.
This suggests that people performing endurance activities such as walking or running may receive the greatest benefit from listening to high-tempo music.
The researchers hope that these results will provide a simple way to improve levels of physical activity.
The lead author of the study is Professor Luca P. Ardigò.
The study is published in Frontiers in Psychology.
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