Exercising or moving to music has many physiological and psychological benefits. The expression “being in the zone” applies to both the competitive athlete as well as to a person engaging in mindful exercise such as Chi Gong or yoga.
Music can serve as a distraction – that some need in order to participate in their fitness activity but it can also enhance one’s mood at medium and high levels of exercise intensity. Many sedentary people report that physical discomfort is a barrier to exercise. These same individuals report less pain and fatigue when working out to music. Several studies back this up and indicate these same people will train harder and longer to reach desired fitness goals. With that being said, it is also important to monitor one’s level of intensity to ensure that over-exertion or over-training is not occurring!
Further research indicates:
1. Physical performance improves with music ( in both training and competition ).
2. VO2 ( maximal oxygen consumption ) can improve, lower levels of blood lactate, reduced blood pressure and lower exercise heart rates have been documented.
3. When movements are synchronized to music benefits are seen in terms of energy efficiency in repetitive endurance activities ( aerobics, running, cycling) and dissociation ( through having to focus on time).
4. The tempo of the music impacts motivation: slow and soft music produces a calming effect ( cool down or yoga) – tempo less than 80 beats per minute and fast, upbeat music creates a stimulative effect ( aerobics and spinning class , interval training) – tempo of 120 beats per minute or greater.
Additionally, it seems that well-trained individuals often prefer no music when they are doing specific types of workouts as they can better listen to their bodies and breathing patterns.
Music also seems to have huge benefits for special populations. Studies have shown that dementia patients respond well to background music.
Patients suffering from TBI and PTSD have also shown positive responses to music. Although, it has been noted that certain high intensity sound can further exacerbate their psychological and physiological conditions.
Other interesting findings:
The perfect workout music:
1. To get people to move use a lot of percussion – rhythm helps to optimize activation levels during workout.
2. Use harmonies – positive harmonic blends keep the mood elevated.
3. Positive lyrics – affirmation in lyrics are helpful.
4. Utilize cultural and personal connections when appropriate.
5. Tempo should match the desired heart rate.
6. Match work and recovery cycles to support the desired training profile. Get synched !!
7. Try a variety of music it may produce new and better results.