Could High-Tempo Tunes Help Maximize Your Workout?

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 12, 2020 — Gyms are bustling with regulars and resolutioners, all working up a sweat. But what’s the secret to an easy, effective workout? It may be in the music.

A new study found that listening to music at a higher tempo reduces the perceived effort of exercise. For endurance exercises, such as walking on a treadmill, the effects were greatest.

“We 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,” said study author Luca Paolo Ardigo, from the University of Verona in Italy. “This means that the exercise seemed like less effort, but it was more beneficial in terms of enhancing physical fitness.”

The benefits of listening to music during a workout have been documented by previous studies. Music can serve as a distraction from the unpleasant parts of exercise. Understanding which properties and types of music are optimal for enhancing exercise could be the key to a better workout, Ardigo and his colleagues noted.

They analyzed the effect of the tempo of music on 19 women performing endurance exercises or high-intensity exercises, such as lifting weights. The volunteers exercised in silence or while listening to music at a range of tempos.

The effects were less pronounced in those performing the high-intensity exercises. These results suggest that those performing endurance exercises may get more out of listening to high-tempo music.

The findings were published Feb. 5 in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

The researchers hope to study larger groups to explore how the nuances of music affect training.

“In the current study, we investigated the effect of music tempo in exercise, but in the future we would also like to study the effects of other music features such as genre, melody or lyrics, on endurance and high-intensity exercise,” Ardigo said in a journal news release.

More information

The National Center for Health Research has more on exercise and music.

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