Does Music Make You Run Faster?

| 1/21/2015 9:40:00 AM

Are you determined to exercise more this New Year? Adding music to your workout will make exercising more enjoyable, but does music make you run faster as well? Research shows that music helps divert your attention from the workout, making you work out harder while enjoying it more at the same time.

Why Does Music Help Exercise?

Music can impact your exercise experience in a variety of ways. For example, music can increase your motivation to exercise,[1] help during a workout by synchronizing your movements to a certain tempo,[1,2] and lower heart rate and improve recovery afterwards.[3]

And certainly, for many people, music helps make exercise more enjoyable. Studies show that people who listen to music during exercise report higher levels of enjoyment both during and after exercise compared to those without music.[4] These results apply to high intensity workouts, as well, such as sprint interval training.[5]

Does Music Make You Run Faster? 

Shifting Focus

But there is more to the story than music simply being enjoyable. Our brain is constantly taking in massive amounts of information, and it must choose what to filter out and what to pay attention to. This is the same during exercise, with information from different sources competing for your awareness.[6]

Listening to music during a workout adds another piece of information competing for your awareness; the music will capture some of your attention, making you focus less on feelings of fatigue, exertion, and other negative signals.[1] As one study puts it, “theoretically, the auditory stimulus is expected to prolong time to exhaustion by acting to limit the processing of fatigue-related cues.”[7] Studies show that music does, in fact, allow you to increase the amount of work being performed without paying as much attention to your level of exertion and fatigue.[6,8]

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