Listening to music while running may be the ultimate secret to enhancing people’s performance while they remain mentally tired, a recent study finds. According to the study conducted by Ohio University, the performance of long-distance runners who listened to an unadulterated self-selected music collection while exercising was just as good as those who weren’t exercising. In addition, researchers examined the effects of a music collection on joggers’ mental and physical condition. They found that both the music and the runners’ workout sessions significantly impacted both treadmill speeds, heart rates, and their ability to focus. The findings are published in the current issue of the Journal of Sports Medicine.
A jogger doesn’t get enough exercise but listening to music while jogging provides the runner with a reason to slow down. During the study, the participants listened to three different types of music: instrumental, dance and instrumentals with vocals. They then completed a four-km run on a treadmill. A control group of joggers did not participate in any music or any exercise. After the four-km run, the joggers took a short mental and physical performance battery to determine if their listening habits affected their performance.
The researchers found that the control group did better than the other groups on each test of the four-mile run. The researchers attributed the improvement to the fact that the joggers listened to music composed for runners while working out. The lyrics in these songs provided the necessary background noise to help keep the joggers mentally fatigued. The participants also demonstrated a greater degree of cardio-vascular endurance than did the non-listeners. The data suggested that music while exercising could help prevent the onset of fatigue and promote a sense of well-being among runners.
The benefit of listening to music while exercising was not limited to joggers. The study found that the same theory was true for skiers and snowboarders. Skiers increased their exposure to outdoor sounds, and they spent more time thinking about how the sound of the white powder they ski off might affect their performance. The skiers’ performance was also better in the short-run (i.e., the distance they covered) but better still compared to controls.
The researchers divided subjects into two groups; told one group to listen to music while exercising, and told the other group to listen to background music during the exercise. During the exercise, the group that listened to music significantly improved their performance on both the cycling exercise and the stair-climbing task. The improvement in the cycling performance was not significant when they played the music at the same volume as background noise; however, the group that listened to the music while exercising seemed to perceive a difference in their performance. This was the only measure of music and exercise efficiency that the researchers used, but the results suggest that there may be benefits for listeners who do listen to music while working out. Music tends to make things more enjoyable.
The researchers say that the benefits of music may be even greater when the lyrics accompanies background music. The lyrics enhance the experience because they can stimulate people’s creativity. Although the study was conducted in a laboratory setting, the researchers say that their research should be duplicated in real-world settings.