Do you ever feel like you can run longer, play a sport for hours, or exercise more when listening to music? Or, perhaps you and your kids will play Just Dance on your Nintendo Switch forever and not even realize how long it has been. Well, that’s because music makes it seem easier.
That’s right, a recent study found that up-tempo music makes exercising seem like you’re exerting less effort; so, you’ll work harder, get more ripped, and not even think about it. In their recent study of the psychophysiological effects of tempo on physical endurance, Italian researchers found that, “listening to high-tempo music while exercising resulted in the highest heart rate and lowest perceived exertion compared with not listening to music” (Patania et al, 2020).
Basically, the researches looked at endurance exercise in participants when they did or did not have high-tempo music. They found significant increases in endurance when volunteers were listening to fast popular music. The researchers also noted that figuring out the ideal tempi (musical speeds) that yield the best results could influence music designed for working out and musical selection.
Choosing the Music
While the study focused on a prescribed list of popular up-tempo tunes that were at a specific tempo, making your own list of motivational tunes seems like the best way to use this information. Of course, this list will change as you and your kids musical tastes evolve.
To me, the activity and objective are essential in considering the type of music for the individual. For example, if I’m dancing with my daughter or wife, I will choose music that we all enjoy, but still gets our hearts pumping. If I’m running, I select music that I like and know will motivate me. This music is really based on what I know about myself and there are even times that the music will serve as a motivational kick start. In fact, I’ll even turn the music off and sing the songs to myself, which allows me to change the tempo if I need some extra pep in my step.
So, take the time to think about the music you listen to when you and your kids are exercising. Make a few playlists for different activities, which can be changed depending on your mood. Then, keep changing it up to keep things fresh. Most importantly make the music fun and you might not even notice the burn.
John Owens, Ph.D. is the author of Music at Home: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Musically Insightful kids, which can be purchased on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2R0oWtb
Patania, V. M., Padulo, J., Iuliano, E., Ardigò, L. P., Čular, D., Miletić, A., & De Giorgio, A. (2020). The psychophysiological effects of different tempo music on endurance versus high-intensity performances. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 74.