Music really can keep your fitness on track
YOU don't need an expert to tell you that listening to music while running can make it feel easier and more fun – but now scientists say it can also boost your performance.
What's more, they have come up with a song to make you run faster and for longer, helping to improve your fitness.
Designed to up your pace by around five per cent and to reduce feelings of fatigue by up to 15 per cent, the Run With Me track – available on Spotify – was produced in collaboration with Professor Costas Karageorghis, an expert on the psychology of music and exercise at Brunel University, who has previously described listening to the right music as being akin to taking "a legal performance-enhancing drug".
The benefits of listening to music during exercise were first observed by a New York scientist in 1911, who found that cyclists rode 8.5 per cent faster with a military band playing than when it was silent.
Last year, Prof Karageorghis and his colleagues reviewed 139 studies into the effect of music on exercise. Their findings, published in the journal Psychological Bulletin, concluded that "music listening significantly enhanced feeling states, increased physical performance, reduced perceived exertion, and improved oxygen consumption efficiency across a broad range of exercise and sport-related tasks".
"There's an almost symbiotic relationship between music and movement," says Prof Karageorghis.
Music can influence your workout synchronously – where the music acts as a metronome and you pace your movement to the beat – or asynchronously, where the music boosts performance by making it feel more enjoyable (the Run With Me track works this way).
"We've observed the relationship between working heart-rate during exercise and preference for music tempo and we know that, at a moderate intensity of running, the optimal tempo is between 130 and 140 beats per minute," says Prof Karageorghis.
"If you want to assuage fatigue and elevate mood, then using a harmony in a major key is good.
"Lyrical affirmation is important, too – positive words engender a positive response, and we thought particularly about inspiring women, so we employed a strong female vocalist on the track."
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