People who don’t enjoy exercise may want to turn up their favorite music. A recent study states that listening to music results in improved enjoyment of exercise when compared to listening to a spoken word podcast or when compared to not listening to anything at all.
Listening to music has great benefits for anyone while exercising. Music can change someone’s mood or encourage them to keep going when the workout gets tough. This is why so many people who exercise often do so with headphones. Studies state that music has documented effects on people’s emotions, affecting people’s reward centers.
The UK study was published in the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise. Study subjects were asked to walk 400 meters at whatever pace they chose. The study subjects were able to walk outdoors on a track while doing the test, a measure that makes this test better reflect real life. The study used EEG testing during the walk to check the brain’s responses when different auditory signals were played. Study subjects were given either 6 minutes of the Pharrell Williams song “Happy”, a TED talk podcast, or nothing to listen to.
Using the EEG equipment, the study doctors tracked the changes in beta waves in the brain. They found that beta waves increased when the study subjects listened to music and when they listened to podcasts. Music listening increased the subjects’ perceived enjoyment by 28% over no music at all. Study participants who were able to listen to music while they were exercising found a 13% increase in their enjoyment compared to the podcast.
While this seems like a common sense effect, having the effect of music on exercise enjoyment quantified makes this an exciting study. This particular study did not show any effect on the subjects’ focus on the task or on their exercise performance, but music is still a great addition to any workout. Other studies have also shown that music makes people perform better at exercise tasks and increases the likelihood that they will repeat the exercise in the future.
Making playlists for specific workouts can be a great way to help people keep their spirits up while exercising. Try cheerful, upbeat songs to try to replicate the effects of the study. Whatever music people choose for a workout, they will enjoy the exercise more than they would have with no music.
Josh Gruss is the Chairman, CEO and founder of Round Hill Music.