Upbeat Music can make a rigorous workout seem less tough

Upbeat Music; New research coming out of UBC’s Okanagan campus demonstrates that upbeat music can make a rigorous workout seem less tough. Even for people who are insufficiently active. Matthew Stork is a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences. He recently published a study examining how the right music can help less-active people get more out of their workout and enjoy it more.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) brief, repeat bouts of intense exercise separated by periods of rest has been shown to improve physical health over several weeks of training. But, cautions Stork, it can be perceived as gruelling for many people, especially those who are less active.

Upbeat Music for exercise

While HIIT is time efficient and can elicit meaningful health benefits among adults who are insufficiently active, one major drawback is that people may find it to be unpleasant. As a result, this has the potential to discourage continued participation,” he says. Previous research led by Stork and UBC Okanagan’s Kathleen Martin Ginis has examined the effects of music during HIIT with recreationally-active people.

Their latest study tested the effects of music with participants who were insufficiently active; so used a more rigorous music selection process and implemented a HIIT regimen; so that is more practical for less active adults. The study took place at Brunel University London and Stork worked with Professor Costas Karageorghis; so a world renowned researcher who studies the effects music has on sport and exercise.

First, Stork gather a panel of British adults to rate the motivational qualities of 16 fast-tempo songs. The three songs with the highest motivational ratings were use for the study. Music is typically use as a dissociative strategy. This means that it can draw your attention away from the body’s physiological responses; so to exercise such as increase heart rate or sore muscles, says Stork. But with high-intensity exercise; so it seems that music is most effective when it has a fast tempo and is highly motivational.

People enjoy the exercise

Participants report greater enjoyment of HIIT. They also exhibit elevate heart rates and peak power in the session with music compare to the no-audio and podcast sessions. The more I look into this, the more I am surprised,” he says. They believe that motivational music would help people enjoy the exercise more; but we were surprise about the elevate heart rate. That was a novel finding.

Stork believes the elevate heart rates may be explain by a phenomenon called ‘entrainment.’ Humans have an innate tendency to alter the frequency of their biological rhythms toward that of musical rhythms. In this case, the fast-tempo music may have increase people’s heart rate during the exercise. It’s incredible how powerful music can be.

Stork’s research indicates that for people who are deem insufficiently active, music can not only help them work harder physically during HIIT but it can also help them enjoy HIIT more. And because motivational music has the power to enhance people’s HIIT workouts, it may ultimately give people an extra boost to try HIIT again in the future. Music can be a practical strategy to help insufficiently active people get more out of their HIIT workouts and may even encourage continued participation.