Fitness apps: Are we exercising to distraction?

Many of us can’t get through a workout without tunes or telly to make it less boring. And there’s nothing wrong with that, says Simon Usborne

For some reason Direct Line, the insurance people, spent last night inviting north Londoners to watch bits of films while working out.

Its one-off “cinigym” swapped seats for treadmills, screening an hour-long montage “designed to enhance, inspire and motivate” (it included the Rocky “steps” scene and the Indiana Jones boulder dash).

It’s PR balls, of course, but a worthwhile opportunity to consider the benefits of distracted exercise. What power, if any, does music have to enhance your health? Lots, according to a booming fitness sub-industry convincing us to exercise with a soundtrack. NOW Running is the latest app to offer workout playlists, taking tracks from the NOW That’s What I Call Music! catalogue to match the length and proposed intensity of your run.

Anyone can create and share playlists at Jog.fm, an app that uses Spotify to pull songs that come with with a beats-per-minute value. “Sex on Fire” (153bpm) tops its current chart, ahead of “Harder to Breathe” and “Pump it.” All of which makes exercise less boring but science suggests music can do more besides. For a 2008 study, British researchers put 12 students on stationary bicycles while listening to pop music and riding at a comfortable pace for 30 minutes. In three separate sessions, the music tempo was varied, to slow, normal, and fast. Riders, whose speed, heart rates and power outputs were measured, were not told about the changes. But sure enough they rode faster and harder as the music sped up, dropping off when it slowed. As researchers wrote, when “the music was played faster, the participants chose to accept, and even prefer, a greater degree of effort” despite not necessarily realising the subtle, 10 per cent changes in speed. Nike saw this potential in 2006 when it commissioned LCD Soundsystem to create the perfect workout track. The US band made 45:33, a 45-minute work with various tempo changes.

A separate study has proved the distracting benefits of music for athletes preparing to compete. Basketball players prone to being affected by stress in shootouts performed better after listening first to upbeat music. Last month, Andy Murray reported that 90 per cent of tennis players use music before games to “get in the zone”. Sadly, he added, for him that includes the works of Ed Sheeran.

Sport
football
News
Hillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

    £17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

    Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

    £16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test