Let the Music Make You Move – Does Music Benefit Those Partaking in Physical Activity?
What genre of music optimize performance in aerobic and anaerobic physical activities in physically active college students? Music and rhythm are often noted as the heart beat of the soul and can often serve as a motivator in tough circumstances. Terry & Karageorhgis (2006) stated, music could improve mood, reduce perceived exertion, improve work output and reduce feelings of pain during exercise. Music may influence one’s responses to exercise in different ways including increasing relaxation, raising one’s level of arousal, and/or distracting one from the negative bodily sensations often experienced in exercise1. Along side the physiological effects of music, several other studies support the concept that music can also serve as a psychological stimulus, enhancing the experience of exercise as well as motivate the participants to push themselves for a better and more intense workout1. Matesic & Cromartie (2002) concluded that the absence of music entirely increased heart rate and perceived exertion in that of their untrained subjects and their trained subjects. All prior studies have concluded significance in music through their studies and findings.
Many people exercise everyday listening to music without knowing what type of music will optimize their performance, if any. The question of which genre of music best optimizes performance in aerobic athletes and anaerobic athletes has bent left unfulfilled. We hypothesize that indie/melodic music would be best for aerobic athletes and a high intensity up beat form of hip-hop or rock for anaerobic performers. Indie music would be optimal for aerobic athletes due to its mellow properties. This would allow the aerobic athlete to match the pace of the music and follow the beats. The fast pace flow and up beat nature of hip-hop/rock music would make the anaerobic athlete respond with more intensity, faster, and harder. It is natural for humans to try and match the beats and rhythms in music which is why the genre of music is important to what the athlete is training for and how they train.
A number of studies have been preformed to determine music’s significance on physical activity and concluded that music is a psychophysical stimulant and an ergogenic aid. Matesic & Cromartie (2002) tested the effects of music on lap pace, heart rate, and perceived exertion rate during a 20-min self-paced run. The study involved twelve male college students aged 18-23 years old. The participants were broken into two groups of six; where one group was considered untrained do to their lack of physical activity, and the other trained because they ran more than three times a week4. They were given heart rate monitors and cassette players that could be held in hand or attached to their shorts4. The cassettes played two songs in a techno, or electronic dance music style. The participants were to run in the innermost lane of an indoor three lane track for 20 minutes at their own pace. Among both trained and untrained participants, listening to music increased lap pace significantly (B. Matesic & E. Cromartie 2002). With music, the trained participants lap pace averaged 52.25 seconds; without music it averaged 55.22 seconds to complete a lap. In the untrained participants, the average lap pace with music was 49.75 seconds, and without music 54.63 seconds. There was no significant difference between the RPE (rate of perceived exertion) in the trained group with and without music. A significant change in RPE was found among the untrained participants4. The groups average RPE while listening to music was 13.4, compared to 17.5 without music, meaning they believed they were putting forth more effort to run without music. Music’s effect on heart rate on the untrained runners was significant. The average heart rate dropped almost six beats per 2.5 min interval when music was played. No significant results were found in the trained participants4. Overall music had the most significant effect on the untrained participants versus the trained showing that music has a noteworthy effect on trained and untrained college males. Lap pace decreased, as well as RPE and heart rate.
Brownley, McMurray, & Hackney (1995) also aimed to determine the effects of music on RPE and performance (time to exhaustion). They found that variations in auditory stimulus intensity, tone and tempo have been shown to evoke dynamic psychological and physiological responses in individuals. Brownley et al. (1995) studied music’s effects on 8 trained and 8 untrained male and female college students between the ages of 20 and 275. The participants were to complete the Bruce Treadmill Test with no music, slow music, and fast music in three different sessions two days apart. The participants average RPE was lower in both the trained (3.64) and untrained (3.82) participants when exercising while listening to music versus no music (trained 3.98/ untrained 4.79). Although not significant, it was found that both groups of runners ran slightly longer while listening to fast music and reported feeling exhausted sooner listening to slower music5. The participant’s time to exhaustion was longer while listening to music versus none at all. The averages for the two conditions were 13.25 min for the trained and 10.94 min for the untrained group without music and 13.40 min for the trained and 11.23 for the untrained subjects under the music condition5. Brownely et al. (1995) concluded without music the subjects did no excessive exercise but they perceive that they were exercising heavily. Music is a powerful external motivator that causes distraction and excitement, so the amount of concentration on the exercise decreases, and the perceived exertion rate decreases as well.
From our research we can conclude that all literature found on music and physical activity/exercise unanimously agrees that music benefits those partaking in physical activity. We have also found that trained participants (male & female) produced the least significant changes in RPE and time to exhaustion while exercising to music versus none at all. Those deemed untrained produce the greatest change in both studies. The previous studies did not allow the participants to listen to their own music. We believe that allowing the participants to chose music they would normally listen to/of their choice would elicit even more significant results when compared to no music at all. Other problems we encountered were that many of the studies we found did not specify or test different genera’s of music. They focused more on the fact that there was music, rater than what genera the participants were listening to. With our proposal we will focus on exactly which genera of music produces the best performance during different physical activities (aerobic/anaerobic).
1. Terry, P.C., & Karageorghis, C.I. (2006). Psychophysical effects of music in sport and exercise: An update on theory, research and application. In M. Katsikitis (Ed.), Psychology bridging the Tasman: Science, culture and practice – Proceedings of the 2006 Joint Conference of the Australian Psychological Society and the New Zealand Psychological Society (pp. 415-419). Melbourne, VIC: Australian Psychological Society.
2. Karageorghis, C., & Priest, D. (2011). Music in the exercise domain: A review and synthesis part i . International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology , Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3339578/
3. Pennington, J. M., Laubach, L. L., De Marco, G. M., & Linderman, J. K. (2010). Enhancing Sports Performance Through The Use Of Music. Journal of exercise physiologyonline. (Vol. 13).
4. Matesic, B., & Cromartie, E. (2002). Effects music has on lap pace, heart rate and perceived exertion rate during a 20-minute self-paced run. The Sport Journal: United States Sports Academy, 5(1), Retrieved from http://thesportjournal.org/article/effects-music-has-lap-pace-heart-rate…
5. Brownley K., McMurray, R., & Hackney, A. (1995). Effects of music on physiological and affective responses to graded treadmill exercise in trained and untrained runners. International Journal of Psychophysiology: Official Journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology, 19(3), 193-201.
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