Music during exercise 'decreases exertion and releases natural painkillers in the brain'

Interacting with the music - by singing or dancing - produces even better results

From the gym, to going for a run, to yoga class – music can help make your workout better.

Listening to music while exercising releases chemicals in the brain which can dull pain and make you less tired, according to an Oxford psychology professor.

Speaking at the conference of the Society for Music Perception & Cognition which concluded in Nashville on 5 August, Professor Robin Dunbar has said that actively engaging in music produces the best results.

The brain releases chemical opioids when it hears music. These are natural painkillers which act like morphine.

Interacting with music, by singing or dancing for example, increases the opioid signals much more than listening alone does, New Scientist reported.

Research by Dr Tom Fritz of the Max Planck Institute in Germany indicates that music best aids exercise when it is tailored to the specific workout.

In January Spotify teamed up with music and sports researcher Dr Costas Karageorghis, and the creator of the INSANITY workout programme Shaun T to create specially designed playlists "scientifically constructed to keep you sweating longer".

Dr Tom Fritz along with Daniel Bowling from the University of Vienna are conducting a study using an exercise machine which responds to the amount of effort used with matching music.

The workout becomes a form of musical expression and more enjoyable than exercising alone.

The researchers found that after six minutes of using the machine, the amount of effort a person thinks they are making decreases by half.

"You don’t need a neuroscientist to tell you that music can be invigorating, intensely pleasurable or sad, but this is an exciting time for research on music’s biological foundations," Dr Bowling said.

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