How Great Music May Help You Get Fit

If you need a healthy dose of motivation few things work as well as music. When you listen to upbeat music that you enjoy you exercise longer and with more intensity. One common theory is that the beat of the music may distract you from early feelings of exertion and boredom.

For decades researchers investigated the power of music to motivate, stimulate, and relax. The connection between music and HRV is also emerging.

Music May Improve Your Workout Motivation & Stamina

It seems that people always relied on music to motivate them to move. Our ancestors may have danced to drums by the fire, or perhaps they were soldiers who marched to the beat of the drum major.

Research supports the motivational power of music. Back in 1911, research pioneer Leonard Ayres discovered that cyclists peddled faster while listening to a band.

Since then numerous other researchers found additional evidence that listening to the right music improves our workouts. Research indicates that people naturally pace their movement according to the tempo of the music.

A great workout playlist may even make our workouts easier. A 2012 Sheffield Hallam University study found that cyclists who synced their peddling to background music required 7 percent less oxygen than those who didn’t listen to music.

Scientific American published an overview of how effective workout music improves workouts. The combined research indicates that upbeat music decreases boredom, motivates, and improves stamina for a better workout.

Music and Heart Rate Variability

Researchers hold varying opinions about the effect of music on HRV. Some studies indicate that listening to music might temporarily decrease HRV. A 2013 study involving healthy 18-35 year old women found “HRV is reduced during heavy metal musical auditory stimulation.”

The researchers noted that the temporary effect doesn’t seem to cause chronic decrease in HRV as another study found an 8-month course of  music therapy was associated with improved HRV due to parasympathetic activity. The effect may vary by the type of music, how variable the rhythm is, and other factors.

While the jury is still out on how music influences HRV and biomarkers, scientific and anecdotal evidence indicates that a great playlist just may be your fitness secret weapon.

Sources and Resources

Let’s Get Physical: The Psychology Of Effective Workout Music, Scientific American

Effect Of Music-movement Synchrony On Exercise Oxygen Consumption. by

Bacon CJ, Myers TR, Karageorghis CI.

The Effects Of Auditory Stimulation With Music On Heart Rate Variability In Healthy Women

By Adriano L. Roque, Vitor E. Valenti, Heraldo L. Guida, Mônica F. Campos, André Knap, Luiz Carlos M. Vanderlei, Lucas L. Ferreira, Celso Ferreira, and Luiz Carlos de AbreuI

Effect Of Long-term Music Therapy Intervention On Autonomic Function In Anthracycline-treated Breast Cancer Patients by Chuang CY, Han WR, Li PC, Song MY, Young ST.

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