How Playing Music Affects Your Exercise

I refuse to exercise without my iPod. Why? It makes the experience so much better/less miserable. And I’m sure many of you would agree.

The relationship between exercise and music is particularly interesting, as it draws from multiple disciplines: physiology, biomechanics, and neurology. And yet, scientists are unsure just how music affects your exercise routine.

In one test, British researchers had 12 male college students ride stationary bicycles while listening to music. They changed the tempo of the music slightly — first slower, then faster — but not significantly enough to be noticed. When the tempo was slower, the subjects biked slower; when it was faster, they biked faster. But oddly enough, nobody fund the workout any easier because of the tempo change. While the tempo improved the workout, nobody found the exercise any less discomforting.

Another study found that basketball players who performed poorly under pressure in games were much better at shooting free throws if they were listening to upbeat music. Clearly, music distracts athletes from themselves and everything around them.

Personally, I listen to my iPod at the gym because I’m tired of hearing my gym play the same three songs over and over. I GET IT, YOU LIKE LADY GAGA. NOW LET ME USE THE ELLIPTICAL IN PEACE.

Do you use listen to music when you exercise? How does it affect you?

From the New York Times. Photo by Ed Yourdon.

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