Vitality

Does Listening To Music Improve Your Workout?

While there are no exact statistics on this one, it is safe to assume that most of us like having a soundtrack accompany our workout. (How else are we supposed to pretend to be the protagonist of an 80s movie involved in a classic training montage?)

But there is also more of a science to it, as explained in a new study from the United Kingdom. The findings suggested that music could actually activate a specific part of your brain to delay the feeling of fatigue.

The study titled "Cerebral effects of music during isometric exercise: An fMRI study" was recently published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology.

Previously, music-related studies have shed light on benefits such as motivating and improving the overall mood of individuals.

"As a researcher, I have always been interested in unravelling psychophysiological mechanisms," said study author Marcelo Bigliassi, who is a Ph.D. researcher at Brunel University London in England. "The effects of music on exercise have been systematically investigated for more than 100 years, and we are still not completely sure how music enhances exercise performance, assuages fatigue, and elicits positive affective responses."

The research team recruited 19 healthy adults for an experiment, asking them to lay down in an MRI scanner and exercise with a hand strengthener grip ring. They performed 30 exercise sets which lasted for 10 minutes each.

But during some of these sets, the researchers played the 1970 song "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" by Creedence Clearwater Revival. When participants heard the music during their workout, the team observed interesting changes in their brain activity. They not only displayed signs of increased excitement but also an increase in thoughts that were unrelated to the task.

The left inferior frontal gyrus, a part of the brain which processes information from both external and internal sources, was found to be activated in response to music. And the more active this region was, the less fatigue participants seemed to experience.

Bigliassi believed that these findings might have some practical implications, maybe to look into similar forms of stimulation that will help prevent high-risk individuals (such as overweight people) from disengaging during physical activity programs.

But at the same time, he emphasized, people should not end up using music as a crutch in order to push through all kinds of tasks in their lives. "This is because, as humans, we are constantly trying to escape from reality and, also, escape from all forms of physical discomfort/pain."

The constant, unnecessary use of auditory and visual stimulation could reduce our ability to process fatigue naturally, he explained, especially the younger generation who should learn to allow their brain to deal with such symptoms in the absence of music.

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