Why Music Makes Any Workout Better

by Mal – Saturday, 28. July 2018

You know the feeling: that favorite song comes on, and you suddenly feel more awake. The beat drops, and you dig deep, finding that extra gear that you didn’t think existed. You’re subconsciously aware of how the big moments in the music is matching your biggest pushes. In reality, it’s been proven that music can improve performance. Read on to learn more about the science behind music and Velocity.

In a 2012 paper, a study at Brunel University London even likened music to a legal, performance-enhancing drug. The authors spent two decades systematically investigating the effects of music in exercise, sport and other physical activity contexts. During repetitive, endurance-type activities, self-selected, motivational and stimulating music has been shown to enhance affect, reduce ratings of perceived exertion, improve energy efficiency and lead to increased work output. There is evidence to suggest that carefully selected music can promote ergogenic and psychological benefits during high-intensity exercise, although it appears to be ineffective in reducing perceptions of exertion beyond the anaerobic threshold.

Listening to tunes while you exercise can improve power, strength and endurance. But your choice of drug matters: achieving the runner’s high might be easiest when the music’s tempo matches your own or pushes you to go just slightly faster than you might otherwise.

If Velocity marries the bettering of the body and the mind, music is the officiant: priest, judge, or rabbi. It’s the glue, the thing that brings and holds it all together.

We’ve all used music to get through some rough patches in life. There’s an anthem for every cause, a fight song for every struggle, and a soundtrack for every story. Music contributes to our general sense of well-being, conjures memories, and can elicit an immediate emotional response.

But if you think of the analysis of music’s effects as being a “soft” science, think again. More and more, studies show that music not only increases athletic performance, but can also:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Improve how quickly you heal and recover
  • Boost your immune system
  • Upgrade the quality of your sleep
  • Promote metabolic efficiency
  • Protect the brain from some of the ravages of aging

And there’s more. When it comes to performance in the Velocity studio, studies also show that the right music can help you exercise harder, longer, and faster, with less perceived effort. In 2007, USA Track and Field went so far as to ban the use of portable audio players at its races that year “to prevent runners from having a competitive edge.”

Music lights up the pleasure centers in your brain and increases levels of dopamine and serotonin. It also encourages the release of endorphins, yet another happiness-inducer. An academic study conducted at The University of Ontario subjected exercisers to all-out activity and concluded that when “listening to music during intense interval exercise… not only did subjects listening to music get a better workout, they rated the experience as being more pleasurable overall.”

Music, and more specifically rhythmic accompaniment, helps you gain new motor skills with greater speed, and perform them with more fluidity. Perhaps you’ve already heard that classical music can boost brainpower and memory. Brain scans show that music and motor control share some of the same wiring. Even if you’re sitting on the couch, listening to music you enjoy increases activity in the regions of the brain that control movement and coordination. So, if you’re waiting to boost your Veloboard score, nail that double-time, or aspiring to rock the front row, be patient, and let the rhythm be your guide.