Weight Loss

How Music Affects Workouts- Turn Your Fitness up to 11!

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How Music Affects Workouts- Turn Your Fitness up to 11! – Thomas DeLauer

Does plugging in your headphones and listening to music while you’re working out actually allow you to get a better workout? Physiologically, does it make you burn more fat? Does it get your heart rate up? Does it make you work harder? Does it make you lift heavier? Does it make you run faster, stronger? Well, let’s look at true physiology here. Because honestly, we all know that there’s a increased perceived exertion, right? By listening to music, you’re going to have an increase in how the workout feels, which is definitely nothing to sneeze at. It’s good for something. But what about the actual physiological effect? Well, let’s dive into it.

All right, so the first thing we have to do is we have to look at one interesting study. This study generalized things, but I think it’s a great one to open with because it makes some sense of just the entirety of plugging in headphones whenever you’re going to work out. This study was published in the International Review of Sports and Exercise Psychology. So it found, in general, through looking at a lot of different studies that low to moderate intensity exercise would see an improvement when listening to music. However, high intensity exercise would not see much of an improvement, simply because of attention processes. Now what that means is that when you’re working at a maximal effort, you aren’t in a position to absorb additional stuff, additional stimuli coming in from the ears. You’re just not going to do it.


Basically, you’re so focused, for example, lifting a heavy weight that the music is going to be such a small portion of what your mind is focusing on that it’s not going to elicit a powerful response. However, if it’s low to moderate activity, the music can help you out. Going for a run, just going through a general kind of lower intensity type hit workout, it’s going to make a big difference. But then when we start looking at some more practical stuff, there was a study that was published in the International Journal of Physiology. Took a look at 25 subjects, and this was a pretty interesting thing. What they did is they measured how long they would work out if they had music plugged in. So, pretty interesting. What they found is that those that ended up plugging in music ended up working out for 37 minutes. Whereas those that didn’t have music ended up only working out for 22 minutes. There was a mild increase in heart rate in those that listened to music, but nothing crazy extreme. So what this kind of shows is that maybe was just a boredom thing.


There are a lot of studies that show that music improves serotonin levels. It helps you feel good. But the Journal of Neuroscience Letters published a study that found that listening to music actually increased dopamine levels. See, dopamine is our reward system.


Studies have shown that the heart tends to try to get in line with music that we’re listening to. So if we’re listening to higher, faster paced music, then we’re going to get a little bit of an elevated heart rate and vice versa. Lower intensity music is going to probably slow down our heart rate a little bit. But there was a study that was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science and Sports that did a pretty deep dive on this. So this study took a look at 12 subjects. Okay? So they had a self chosen workload. Meaning, they could work as intensely or not intensely as they wanted to for a total of 25 minutes.

Well, the results were really, really wild. What they found is that when you sped up music, the distance traveled, the unit time, and the pedal power change just a little bit. So by increasing the tempo, they would change the unit covered by 2.1%. They changed the overall unit by 0.7. And the pedal power by 5.9. Okay?


As always, keep it locked in here on my channel. If you have ideas for future videos, you know where to put them. I’ll see you in the next one.

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