Tune Scoop: The Effect of Music on Exercise

Do you like to listen to music while you exercise? People’s preferences about whether they listen to music, what kind of music they choose, and their reasons for doing so are as varied as the workouts themselves. What effect does music actually have on how people exercise?

  1. Listening to music can decrease rate of perceived exertion (RPE), or how hard you feel like you’re working. This can be great to help you work out a little longer because you may not feel as tired as quickly.
  2. You may actually enjoy your workout more. Research says it’s true – music is associated with greater enjoyment during exercise.
  3. People can be categorized as ‘associators,’ ‘dissociators,’ or ‘switchers.’ Associators focus their attention on the exercise, dissociators focus their attention elsewhere, and switchers have flexible attention focus. Music could provide the focus for attention that dissociators need, while associators may simply find it distracting.
  4. Music can help you focus on your workout longer, even if you’re fatigued. But be careful here – research showed that even if people were still focused on the workout, the music was not able to prevent their performance changes due to fatigue. If you are too tired to correctly perform the exercise, you increase your risk of injury.

Personally, I don’t tend to listen to music while I work out. Of course, I love jamming out during my drive to the gym and I enjoy if it’s playing over the speakers or if I’m in a group fitness class, but on my own, I don’t choose to plug in to my own music. I’m an associator – I love to feel my body working. For me, there’s a sense of autonomy in working out without music. Going for a run outdoors, especially, with nothing but the clothes I’m wearing, gives me a feeling of independence that I crave. My other reason for forgoing exercise music is less profound – I hate to wear headphones, and I can’t seem to coordinate my movements around the cord and it really just ends up being a distraction for me.

Although the evidence points to potential benefits of listening to music, there is not necessarily a need to add it and you’re not at a disadvantage if you don’t prefer workout music.

Do you listen to music while you work out? Share your favorite workout songs in the comments!

 

Sources:

Barzegar H, Soori R Akbarnejad A, Vosadi E. The effect of music on athletic cardio-respiratory responses and perceived exertion rate during incremental exercise. Razi Journal of medical Sciences, 2013;20:32-39.

Jones L, Karageorghis CI, Ekkekakis P. Can high-intensity exercise be more pleasant? Attentional dissociation using music and video. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, Oct 2014;36:528-541.

Hutchinson JC, Karageorghis CI. Moderating influence of dominant attentional style and exercise intensity on responses to asynchronous music. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 2013;35:625-643.

Lopes-Silva JP, Lima-Silva AE, Bertuzzi R, Silva-Cavalcante MD. Influence of music on performance and psychophysiological responses during moderate-intensity exercise preceded by fatigue. Psychology & Behavior, 2015;139:274-280.