Study finds a type of music that makes exercise seem easier

With the exception of certain niche activities, exercise is generally performed with music in the background. The audio does more than keep the mind entertained while the body gets its daily fitness routine in, according to a new study published in Frontiers of Psychology. Researchers found that a specific type of music has a profound effect on the way the mind perceives the exercise and how much of a benefit someone gets during the session.

It's the beginning of the year, which means many people are still hitting the gym and attempting to meet their New Year fitness goals. Getting into the habit of exercising on a regular basis may be difficult for some, however, due to the exertion and the mental aspects of dealing with the discomfort.

Listening to high-tempo music may reduce that mental load, however, by making the exercise seem easier and, as a result, by helping the participant get more from it. The study found that this benefit was greatest when the music was used with endurance-type exercises like hiking a long distance rather than high-intensity exercises like running in fast, short bursts or lifting weights.

The study involved having female volunteers perform either high-intensity or endurance exercise while listening to pop music at various tempos; a different group did these exercises in silence. The study found that participants who listened to high-tempo music had higher heart rates than other participants, meaning they were exercising harder and getting more benefits from their effort. The greatest benefit was seen with the endurance exercise group.

Subjectively speaking, the exercise seemed like it required less effort when listening to high-tempo music, which is why the participants worked harder. Future research may look into the way different music genres, sounds, and even song lyrics may influence different types of exercise to help improve fitness.