In addition to offering entertainment whilst running on the treadmill, listening to music during a workout can also lessen fatigue, according to new research.
The study, conducted by Brunel University London and published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology, found that hearing Marvin Gaye’s rendition of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” while being active resulted in stimulation in the region of the brain associated with easing fatigue.
Participants also reported feeling that their workouts felt shorter and more exciting while listening to the 11-minute song, the only song used in the study.
Of the findings, study author Dr Marcelo Bigliassi told PsyPost: “Music is a very powerful auditory stimulus and can be used to assuage negative bodily sensations that usually arise during exercise-related situations”.
As the music increases stimulus in this region of the brain, people feel less tired - which can increase the amount of time they are capable of exercising.
Dr Bigliassi thinks the findings could be especially helpful during “the most critical periods of the exercise regimen, when high-risk individuals are more likely to disengage from physical activity programmes (e.g., individuals with obesity, diabetes, etc.)”.
However, Dr Bigliassi does have practical concerns when it comes to the effects of music on workouts.
Although science proves music does lessen fatigue, he worries that humans may become too reliant on music as an escape from reality.
“We have learnt so much about the psychophysical, psychological, and psychophysiological effects of music in the past two decades that people are almost developing a peculiar form of stimulus dependence,” he said. “If we continue to promote the unnecessary use of auditory and visual stimulation, the next generation might be no longer able to tolerate fatigue-related symptoms and exercise in the absence of music.”
To study the effects of music while working out, the researchers had participants lie down in an MRI scanner and exercise with a hand-strengthener grip ring.
Participants engaged in 30 exercise sets, each lasting 10 minutes, to study the impact of music.
Despite his concerns, Dr Bigliassi said: “Music and audiovisual stimuli can and should be used and promoted, but with due care.”
However, instead of relying solely on music, he also feels that it is important people learn other ways to cope with fatigue associated with exercise.
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