Adding music to any routine can not only keep you motivated, it can lift your spirits and help keep you focused on the activity at hand. But can it really improve your workout?
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Fast music, especially, provides us more information to process, which may distract someone from the physical sensations of fatigue and block signals to stop exercising.
But not all fast songs do that.
If the music is too fast, it isn’t likely to enhance performance or endurance, says Costas Karageorghis, PhD, deputy head of sports psychology at Brunel University. He has studied the effects of music on exercise for more than 20 years.
Studies show there is a sweet spot, in terms of tempo, between 120 and 140 beats per minute. Beyond that, it doesn’t improve enjoyment or any other psychological variable while exercising.
That’s also true if you’re working out at a very intense level, or about 70%-80% of your aerobic capacity. In fact, for most elite athletes, music only has a small effect on performance. That’s because most athletes already have excellent focus when it comes to regulating their movements and reaching a particular goal. Music may be too distracting and even hinder performance for some professional athletes.
But for the average person who exercises at a moderate level a few days a week, music can and does enhance working out. Unlike athletes who train for a living, most people actively seek distractions while working out. Listening to music may ease the boredom they associate with exercising.
Music can help you to tolerate exercise, and may even motivate you to work out more often.