A German neuroscientist believes that the future of working out lies not only in listening to music while you exercise, but also making music when you pump iron.
Thomas Fritz, the author of a new study about music and physical exertion, has long examined the relationship between the body and perception. He has coined a technique called "jymmin'," the mash-up of "gym" and "jammin'", where people use exercise machines that "push the borders of bodily exhaustion with the help of music," according to a video about the technique.
Fritz wanted to explore the effects exertion tied to music had on the human psyche and physicality. Though links between music and bodily exertion had been studied before, the topic hadn't been examined in depth from a neuroscientific perspective. In the past, it was assumed that music's effect on improving the exercising experience had to do with distraction: that it it would distract and relieve the body of its awareness of itself -- also known as 'proprioception.' Proprioception is the sense of relative position of one’s own body, as well as the effort of movement.
In a new study completed with the help of researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Fritz found that bringing music into the exercise room, and having athletes produce music as they worked out, makes muscles use less energy and become more physiologically effective. The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“These findings are a breakthrough because they decisively help to understand the therapeutic power of music,” Fritz said in a news release. “A down-modulating effect of musical activity on exertion could be a yet undiscovered reason for the development of music in humans: Making music makes physical exertion less exhausting”.
The researchers studied participants through the use of three different fitness machines. In the first test, participants used the fitness machines while passively listening to music. In another test, participants worked out on machines that played music once they were put in motion, making the exercise interactive. The researchers measured the participants' changes in muscle tension, oxygen intake and asked them about sense of exertion.
The participants experienced less stress, or strain, of lifting weights when they were actively producing music, rather than simply listening to music in the background, as was once perceived as "distraction."
Other scientists who have studied the effects of music on exercise performance have found that music certainly plays a role in both the enjoyment and the level of exercise you undertake.
"Music is like a legal drug for athletes," Costas Karageorghis of London's Brunel University School of Sport and Education told Ace Fitness. "It can reduce the perception of effort significantly and increase endurance by as much as 15 percent." Karageorghis lists three properties of music that influence exercise performance, including an athlete's tendency to move in tempo with synchronous sounds, music's ability to increase a desire to move rather than sit, and music's distracting effect from workout-related pain.
But an interactive musical-workuot, employed by using machines that produce music when you move, may have an even greater effect on the body's ability to exert strength.
“This implies that the developed technology is more favourable as a new athletic sports technology, presumably because more emotionally driven motor control occurs with the musical ecstasy,” Fritz said in a news release.