The effects of music on exercise


Researchers consistently study the effect that different types of music, from hip-hop to country, have on exercise routines. Studies show that music can be a motivating factor during a workout session.

According to an article from IDEA Health and Fitness Association, one study demonstrated that those who listened to music with faster beats and tempo were more likely to give off a stronger exercise performance. Another study showed those who chose their own stimulative music performed better than those who listened to the stimulative music provided by the researchers.

Stephanie Rhodes
BYU freshman, Joanna Stuart, lifts weights in the Smith Field House Friday afternoon. The weight room is just one of the places on campus accesible to students for working out.

David Barney, professor in the physical education and teacher education program, said music is beneficial to exercise because it is a key motivation factor. He conducted some research with a few of his colleagues on the effect that different types of music have on workouts.

“We found that people like to work out to hip-hop, rock and pop music,” Barney said. “Music can get you ‘pumped up.’ It can serve as the vehicle to help you start working out, maintain your workout and help you come back tomorrow to work out again.”

His research supports the article from IDEA Health and Fitness concerning the fact that faster beats equate to a better workout performance.

“Research has shown that exercising to music with a beat of 120 to 160 beats per minute helps a person exercise harder and for longer periods of time,” Barney said.

Most athletes like to listen to music as they perform their specified workouts. According to BYU gymnast Jordan Dalebout, BYU athletes are no exception to the music and exercise combination. She said there is always music being played at practice and that it is harder to concentrate when the gym is quiet.

She also said she has noticed how music with faster beats helps her perform.

“You often feel less tired when listening to music, because it is excited and you feel energized by the music,” Dalebout said. “I usually try to pick music that has a quick tempo and that is really energetic and exciting.”

Most students can be seen enduring their workouts with their personal choice of stimulative workout music.

Psychology major Christian Kindt said he listens to music with more aggressive beats to power through his exercise routines both in and outside of the gym.

“I typically listen to harder rock when I work out,” Kindt said. “I think it is aggressive and gives you a sense of adrenaline and rhythm. It all depends on the type of music you listen to, and the more in tune to that rhythm you are, the more it helps.”

Professor of Introduction to Music at BYU David Brown said the tempo and beat counts of the music people listen to while exercising are important aspects of each workout. He also said music affects people on a basic level, because humans have a natural drive to move to a faster tempo and strong beat.

“Ideally, you find music that is at a tempo that matches your pace,” Brown said. “One hundred twenty beats per minute is march tempo, which would make for a pretty slow run, so for running, you would be looking for something that is between 140 and 150 beats per minute.”

According to the Gym Insight blog, music with 135 beats per minute, such as “techno, upbeat pop music and hard rock,” are known to benefit endurance workouts. The blog also said that music with “repetitive tempo” that is between 115 and 135 beats per minute helps with strength training exercises.

The article also explained that genres such as pop and heavy metal are best known for bettering cardio workouts, because they have “powerful, quick and repetitive beats.” It stated that genres such as alternative, soft and indie rock with 90 to 115 beats per minute are recommended for balancing and stretching exercises. The article explained that the slower beats in this music type help lower heart rates for the “low impact exercises.”

The Healtheo360 website recommended a list of the top five best workout music genres. These include pop, rock, latin, hip-hop and electronic genres.

Kevin Stephenson, BYU grad in the clinical psychology Ph.D program, said the research he has seen from an article by International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, suggests that music activates the body’s autonomic nervous system and acts more as a distraction rather than enhancement during workouts.

He also said there is a lot of research that shows music can influence people on both a basic physiological and psychological level.

“It can elicit emotions in us, create a desire to move our bodies, helps us concentrate and even change our thoughts and moods,” Stephenson said. “It can also influence our perception of a scene or of people.”

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