Does exercising to music improve performance?


Music is often used during exercise to help with motivation, whether it is an exercise class or out running. However, is there any scientific backing behind listening to music and improving performance?


A research study was conducted to determine whether high intensity exercise is more sensitive to the beneficial effects of music than endurance exercise. Both heart rate and perceived exhaustion were assessed with and without music at varying levels of exercise intensity.


Music perception involves the stimulation of various centres in the brain, including emotional responses, automatic movements, co-ordination, and the organisation and planning of movements. Results indicate listening to music while exercising improves work performance and decreases the perceived exertion and fatigue caused by ongoing exercise, particularly during endurance exercise. Effects on performance during high intensity training did not elicit statistically significant results.


There is no doubt listening to music during exercise is motivational, and could be used as a tool to help people become involved in physical activity without becoming bored and disengaged.