What is it about music that makes the workout seem easier? Music and exercise have been going hand in hand for seemingly forever. It’s played at every sporting event, in every exercise class, even used in team practices for rowing to help the team pull together in unison.
Music has a pull on us, it takes over our body and gets us to move, but why?
3 Effects of Music on Exercise Performance
Researchers at London’s Brunel University School of Sport and Education, the world’s leading authorities on music and exercise, have done numerous studies on the subject. From their findings, they have determined there are three primary effects that music has on exercise performance.
First is the tendency to move in time to synchronous sounds, essentially our uncanny temptation to tap our foot to the beat of the music. Second, the tendency of music to increase arousal, or the ability of music to get us to get up and move or feel excited or sluggish based on the tone and cadence of the music. Third, the tendency for music to affect our perception of intensity, when we listen to music that we enjoy, our workouts don’t seem to take as long or seem as hard. But why is this the case?
For the answer to that, we need to look at the neurological response that music has on us. When we listen to our favorite song, our body shows all of the symptoms of emotional arousal. Our pupils dilate, our heart rate and blood pressure increase, the electrical conductance of our skin is lowered (which is why we get chills during certain parts of certain songs), and the cerebellum, the part of our brain that is associated with movement, becomes increasingly active. Along with this, blood flow is increased in the muscles in our lower body, which could be the cause for us tapping our feet to the rhythm.
Researchers in Montreal have also studied why exactly we have the response to music that affects our mood. From their findings, they discovered that music releases dopamine in the part of the brain that is associated with the pleasure senses, particularly right before we get to our favorite part in the song. It is this increase in dopamine that can make us happy and make it so that things that may normally seem unpleasurable, like intense exercise, seem more pleasurable and less intense.
Essentially music is a powerful tool to aid our workout; keep us motivated, push us harder, and make it more enjoyable. So, the next time you plan on working out, don’t forget to load up your IPod, phone, or whatever you use with your favorite upbeat songs. You will love the rush you get and end up having a great workout!
Be sure to check out our ELITE SPORTS CLUBS SPOTIFY PROFILE for playlists from all your favorite group exercise classes! We have different genres for everyone’s preferences!
Written by Luke Lewitzke, Personal Training Director at Elite Sports Club-Mequon
Luke has a B.S in Kinesiology from UW-Milwaukee, is an American Council of Exercise (ACE) Certified Personal Trainer, as well as an ACE Lifestyle and Weight Management Coach. He is also a certified Spin, Les Mills Body Pump, and TRX instructor and specializes in lifestyle management and functional training. Luke enjoys playing basketball and baseball, spending time with his wife and 2 children (Owen & Makayla), coaching their various activities, and camping. He believes that “success and happiness are choices. Every day you decide what to wear, eat, whether or not to exercise, if you are going to be happy, and how you are going to approach the day. Through a little determination, thought, and preparation, you can achieve any level of success and happiness in your health and life, but it all starts with a choice.” Luke started his career in 1999 and has been with Elite Sports Clubs since 1999.