When I go running, or workout with weights, I’ve always found that a powerful motivating factor can be the music that I listen to. If I listen to upbeat music that sets a good pace, I’ll often have an extremely good workout. If I don’t listen to music or the music just isn’t as upbeat – the workout isn’t always as good.
Now new research is showing why music helps to motivate us when we workout, and looks at the key elements in music that can get us pumped up for our workout.
For the last 20 years, Costas Karageorghis, a sports psychologist at Britain’s Brunel University, has been setting the research pace for understanding our need to groove and move… According to Kargeorghis, there are four factors that contribute to a song’s motivational qualities: rhythm response, musicality, cultural impact and association. The first two are known as “internal” factors as they relate to the music’s structure while the second two are “external” factors that reflect how we interpret the music.
- Rythm Response: Rhythm response is tied to the beats per minute (bpm) of the song and how well it matches either the cadence or the heartbeat of the runner
- Musicality: A song’s structure such as its melody and harmony contribute to its musicality.
- Cultural Impact: The external factors consider our musical background and the preferences we have for a certain genre of music.
- Association: We associate good things with certain songs and artists, and that music can help to motivate us.
Choosing The Right Music Can Increase Your Efficiency, Endurance
Another thing the researchers found in their studies was that syncing beats per minute with an exercise pace could increase the efficiency for their subjects:
In a recent study, subjects who cycled in time to music found that they required 7 percent less oxygen to do the same work when compared to music playing in the background. Music can also help block out the little voice in your brain telling you its time to quit. Research shows that this dissociation effect results in a 10 percent reduction in perceived effort during treadmill running at a moderate intensity.
Not only did they find that their efficiency could increase, but they found that the right music choice could increase endurance and lessen the impact of fatigue.
“The synchronous application of music resulted in much higher endurance while the motivational qualities of the music impacted significantly on the interpretation of fatigue symptoms right up to the point of voluntary exhaustion,” Karageorghis reported.
What Is The Conclusion?
So what is the conclusion that we can reach from these studies? To me it means that I should be making my workouts better by being careful about the music choices I make. If I choose the right music that has an upbeat tempo (high BPM), has a good association for me, and that can be in sync with my workout, I can expect to have more effective and even longer workouts because of the motivational effect of the music.
So, how do you go about finding the right music for the workout? There are a variety of softwares out there that will analyze your music library and categorize songs into different playlists according to beats per minute – and some even will create playlists so that you have a warmup, exercise and warm-down. One example of that is the Tangerine plugin for Itunes. Use one of those softwares to create your optimal playlist for your workout!
Have you found that music helps you to have a better workout? Do you have playlists for certain types of exercise, or for certain goals?