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Friday, April 19, 2013


There are many public places that you walk into that have set ups so that there is a feeling of a certain ambience whether it be the color of the walls, the decoration, even the placement of furniture, merchandise and lighting. Music is also used to create a certain environment such as music of calming effect in a doctor’s office, where depending on the situation there is a high level of stress release from individuals who are consulting, or music with higher number of beats in a fast food chain restaurant to impose fast eating.

So while working out, does the genre of music that you listen to affect your routine? Does it have physiological and mental effect on training? Can you listen to just anything or should there be guidelines to the choice of music while exercising for better results?

The literature out there regarding the effect that music has on our lives could also apply to exercise and sport. It has a psychological effect where it can influence mood, and emotion (recollection of memories, recognition and identification of emotions, and transmission of wellbeing), and even behaviour. It increases attention span because it provides dissociation from fatigue and discomfort that comes with exercise. Music can cause arousal by the stimulation of the brain. It also has physical effects such as reducing inhibitions (feeling of anxiety) and encourages rhythmic movement. If these effects occur while listening to music, it means the tunes you choose to listen to will also have physiological effects.

The rhythm or tempo of the songs chosen stimulates the body. The tempo (speed of music measured in beats/min or bpm) stimulates the brain having effect on the level of arousal, for it releases norepinephrine which affects HR. In order for stimulation of the body while exercising, there is a need for a bpm of 134, and for a sedative effect 90bpm.  Music with exercise increases adherence. It will cause arousal or calm the nerves. It also stimulates the body to rhythmically want to engage in activity. The choice of genre is important in the fitness world, It dictates the vibe of the environment. This is why most gyms opt to leave the radio on, and keep the tunes to pop, dance or electronic. But when another genre is chosen, this might create a different environment negative to training. The playlist for group classes include music of both motivating and relaxation purposes, where upbeat music is for activation in the beginning, and ending with the calm-down. The synchronization of movements copied with music may require less energy and greater relaxation which comes with the expectancy of what is to come. And your own lists should represent what attracts the optimal psychological state for training.

Music proves to have effect on endurance and resistance training, but in the low to moderate intensities for it alters the focus of attention to the information being received. But in higher intensities music is over shadowed, this may be due to not affect positively the level of perceived exertion.

There is an ergogenic effect due to the dissociation factor of perception of pain reduction. The effects result in higher levels of endurance, power, productivity or strength which could be the consequence of the delayed fatigue related to change in perception, and not actual increase of intensity. For athletes it is more effective before a competition and it relates to the stimulation or relaxation to acquire that state of mind to perform well.

Remember since the choice of music relates to what you are attracted to, wellbeing and performance, it should reflect the state of mind that you find yourself in that moment. This means you don’t always have to listen to hard rock n’ roll, or heavy metal to get that pump out of your training.
Articles Consulted   
Karageorghis and Priest. Music in the exercise domain: a review and synthesis – Part 1. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology. 2011.
Biagini, et al. Effects of self-selected music on strength, explosiveness and mood. Journal of Strength and Conditioning. 2012

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