Heard it through the treadmill: why music helps you work out

Heard it through the treadmill: why music helps you work out

Playing favourite sounds makes you feel less tired and the workout goes quicker.

Bumping your playlist when you’re on the treadmill can make you feel less tired and increase the time you spend exercising.

A new study by Brunel University London found that hearing Marvin Gaye’s I Heard It Through The Grapevine while being active stimulated the region of the brain associated with easing fatigue.

Participants also reported their workouts felt shorter and more exciting while listening to the 11-minute song, the only track used in the study.

To study the effects of music while working out, the researchers had participants lie down in an MRI scanner and exercise with a hand-strengthener grip ring. Participants engaged in 30 exercise sets, each lasting 10 minutes.

Study author Marcelo Bigliassi thinks the findings could be especially helpful during the most critical periods of exercise. That’s when high-risk individuals are more likely to disengage from physical activity programmes – people with obesity, diabetes or other issues.

However, Dr Bigliassi does have practical concerns when it comes to the effects of music on workouts. Although science proves music does lessen fatigue, he worries that humans may become too reliant on music as an escape from reality.

 “We have learnt so much about the effects of music in the past two decades that people are almost developing a peculiar form of stimulus dependence,” he said.

“If we continue to promote the unnecessary use of auditory and visual stimulation, the next generation might be no longer able to tolerate fatigue-related symptoms and exercise in the absence of music.”

Despite his concerns, Dr Bigliassi said: “Music and audiovisual stimuli can and should be used and promoted, but with due care.” Instead of relying solely on music, he feels that it is important people learn other ways to cope with fatigue associated with exercise.


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