Whether you’re listening to your favorite tunes while going on a run or relaxing your body with the sound of sweet melodies, music holds great influence on our motivation and athletic performance! Training can feel long and monotonous, as we may repeat the same motions and hone in on particular details to improve technique. With music, we could potentially take our mind off of the grind and the pain– next thing you know, you’ve finished your workout!
So what’s the behind-the-scenes magic of music during workouts?
Music is a stimulant. It can boost up our moods, help our minds develop vivid memories, and can aid coordination and control. Different parts of your brain are activated, as music reaches areas of the brain that are difficult to get to just by exercising. Specifically: it activates our motor cortex, increases visual processing, balance, and coordination through our occipital lobe, and reduces our cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone.
Music also naturally releases dopamine, thus blocking our full perception of fatigue. Whether we’re vibing with inspirational lyrics or dancing along to the beat, our music can help boost confidence levels and cultivate a more positive self-image. There’s a song for just about anything and any mood– if you want to cool down and bring adrenaline levels down, there are songs with calming melodies to help us get back to a neutral state. By redirecting our mentality, music can result in a more productive, self-rewarding practice/work out!
It’s easier to fall into a melodic rhythm when exercising with your favorite songs. Music is usually most effective when the tempo correlates with your pace and heart rate. It helps you get into that flow and use the music to keep you going. Also, while it is important to stay aware of your surroundings, music can make the distracting environment around you fade into the background and you can really visualize yourself and your goals.
With music enhancing our emotional memory anywhere we go, we can also use it to increase our muscle memory! Perhaps you’ll associate a certain part of a song with a particular exercise or movement, to the point where it feels natural and where we can try adding more. That isn’t to say that music directly leads to increased performance. It can encourage you to try different things and expand out of your comfort zones, which can lead to increased physical performance. Musical experience is more psychological and subjective.
It’s so much fun to make playlists for yourself! There are plenty of apps, like Spotify and Apple Music, that make it easy to find your favorite bands and singers and add their songs to your playlists. You can have specific playlists for higher intensity workouts and others for lower intensity workouts! Or, you can just compile them all into one, big playlist to listen to at any time. Music is something that is universal– its impact is not limited to any particular boundary. Exercise is no exception– feel free to play some fantastic tunes while you’re getting in a good sweat. Who says workouts can’t be fun?!
“Can Music Make You a Better Athlete?” PBS, www.pbs.org/newshour/science/can-music-make-you-a-better-athlete.
“The Impact of Music on Performance in Sport.” Inner Drive, blog.innerdrive.co.uk/sports/impact-of-music-on-performance-in-sport.
“The Powerful Benefits of Music in Sports.” Holabird Sports, www.holabirdsports.com/blogs/news/the-powerful-benefits-of-music-in-sports.