Music and Performance

Interesting research article published in The Wall Street Journal on how music impacts exercise. Here is the takeaway.

  • The “sweet spot” for workout music is between 125 and 140 beats per minute when people aren’t trying to time their movements to the music.
  •  For athletes who synchronize their movements to a musical beat, their bodies can handle more exertion.
  • The benefits of music seem most pronounced during low-to-moderate-intensity exercise—in other words, it’s more effective for recreational exercisers than elite athletes, scientists say.

In my post Orgasm Fitness, I lightly touched upon a fitness culture of distraction.

I see two issues at stake here:

1. Exercise compliance 

  • Will music keep people motivated to workout longterm? 
  • Will it impact client retention? 

Music may evoke pleasant associations, while masking unpleasant stimuli.  This may stimulate adherence and impact short-term gains. In short, people may be more likely to come to the gym if they could satisfy their pleasure center more. However, there are a few considerations…

  • Are we training our brains to become over-dependent on external stimuli?
  • Exercising distracted while outdoors is dangerous, particularly in an urban environment.

As fitness professionals, I believe we need to equip our students and clients to exercise with and without music. Music tastes vary. You need to find the style of music that appeals to you, your workout and you need to be able to use ambient noise and silence as a tool.

2. Performance

  • Adding music to workouts should be regarded as a CONDITION of training not a function of training.
  • Remember, music anesthetizes.  

The test subjects in these studies were all ATHLETES who knew how to exercise. These people are body aware and well coached in movement. Aside from acknowledging the performance benefits of their music infused training…

  • What is unclear is whether these gains remained when in a real life training, or racing, environment that barred the use of performance enhancing aids.

Aside from the benefits, the researches did not factor the increased likelihood of injury when you are amped on adrenaline, and the inability to hear instruction when music is played at high volume.

When you have a solid core and thorough understanding of exercise. It is then can you play more rewarding games.

Be. Move. Do.




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