When heading to your workout, there are a few things that most gym members always bring with them: a water bottle, a towel, the appropriate shoes, and their headphones. For many gym members, their headphones are the most crucial part of their workouts. Without them, they might not even exercise. In fact, a 2014 survey found that two out of three people cut their workout short or skipped it entirely if they didn’t have their headphones.
As you can see, music is an essential part of most people’s fitness routines. If someone forgets their water bottle, they’ll probably still do their workout, but if they forget their headphones, they will turn around immediately, grab them, and then go workout. Music is that important to people. However, that might be a good thing.
While it is fun and exciting, it also has tremendous effects on your workout. Studies have found that it has the power to improve your workout. That’s right! Just by listening to music, you can boost your performance in the gym! Even if you don’t have your own headphones, most gyms play their own throughout the facility.
Fitness Nation understands the importance of a good workout playlist. While we have music of our own, we encourage everyone to bring their own headphones to listen to what they want so that they can experience the fitness benefits it offers!
Effects on Your Workout
Some experts believe that music acts as a distractor. Distractors are known to moderate pain levels, which means you will be less likely to notice pain during a workout. Those not listening to music might experience the intensity of their exercise more, feeling more tired or sore while exercising. Those listening to music will be distracted by it and might not notice any discomfort or strain on their body.
In The Social and Applied Psychology of Music, authors North and Hargreaves suggest that music distracts from the pain you endure during a workout through competing stimuli, meaning both music and the pain from your exercise are competing against each other. It’s easier to forget about or ignore pain or fatigue when you’re distracted by a song.
However, there are plenty of other effects of music on your workout.
Boosts Athletic Performance
Multiple studies have found that listening to music can boost your athletic performance, either by increasing the distance you run, the pace at which you travel, or how many reps you complete.
A study by the University of Toronto examined 34 cardiac rehabilitation patients following set exercise regimes. Researchers split them into three groups: one without music, one with personalized playlists, and one with playlists curated specifically to enhance tempo-pace synchronization with rhythmic auditory stimulation (RAS). While the group listening to the RAS music didn’t feel as if they were exerting much energy, the endurance, intensity, and duration of their workouts all increased compared to those in the other two groups.
Another study found that those who listened to music while on the treadmill increased their pace and distance traveled without feeling tired.
We briefly touched on it earlier, but listening to music while exercising can reduce physical feelings of fatigue. A 2010 study found that music can not only increase your work capacity, but it can also delay feelings of fatigue. Additionally, we mentioned how it is an excellent distractor, keeping your mind off of the fatigue and pain you are feeling.
Synchronizing with the Beat
Your body has a natural way of synchronizing with the beat of a song. The more fast-paced and energetic a song is, the more likely your pace will be, as well. Music stimulates the part of the brain that controls movement, so it helps your body complete repetitive movements more efficiently.
This synchronization increases your heart rate, metabolism, and energy efficiency, while also reducing blood pressure and physical and mental stress. Also, you’re less likely to feel fatigued.
Different studies have shown that specific tempos lead to maximum performance in certain exercises. For instance, a 2011 study found that to achieve the best performance while cycling (determined by measuring intensity through heart rate), the ideal tempo is between 125 and 140 bpm. A similar study in 2014 looked for the best bpm while on the treadmill, and they discovered that music between 123 and 131 bpm led to the best performance.
Experts agree that the ideal tempo to achieve maximum results is 120 to 140 bpm. However, for activities that are slower and more relaxed (such as yoga), music that is more low-tempo will work best.
One of the best benefits of music (not just while exercising) is that it improves your mood. Listening to music releases the body’s feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, oxytocin, and more). It also reduces your cortisol levels (your body’s stress hormone). As these levels decrease, so too will your stress. It allows you to shed negative thoughts and enter a more positive state of mind.
Since exercising also enhances your mood by releasing the same feel-good hormones, working out while listening to music is an excellent way to improve your mood.
Much like fatigue, music also helps you overcome pain. It acts as a distractor, which not only distracts you from fatigue but also distracts you from pain. Not only that, but it helps you find pain relief. As we just mentioned, listening to music releases your body’s natural mood-enhancing hormones and opioids. These hormones not only improve your mood, but they can also provide you with pain relief.
These hormones raise your pain tolerance, allowing you to endure more throughout your workout. If you interact with music (such as synchronizing your movements with the beat), you increase the opioid signals, which increases its pain-relieving qualities.
As you can see, there is a reason music has become a necessary part of working out. It helps motivate people to work harder while offering countless benefits. At Fitness Nation, we understand the impact music has on your workout, and we encourage all members to bring their headphones and jam out to the music that works best for them.