The next time you hit the gym, do not forget to put on the music as researchers have confirmed that high-tempo songs may enhance the benefits of exercise, besides making physical activities a lot more easier.
Listening to music at a higher tempo is more beneficial for endurance exercises, such as walking on a treadmill, than for high-intensity exercises, according to the study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.
Many people listen to music while exercising and previous studies have documented some of the benefits. For instance, music can distract from fatigue and discomfort and increase participation in exercise.
However, "how" we experience music is highly subjective, with cultural factors and personal preferences influencing its effects on individuals. Music is multifaceted with various aspects such as rhythm, lyrics and melody contributing to the experience.
Until now, researchers did not understand the specific properties of music that affect us during exercise, including which types of music are best suited to enhancing certain types of exercise.
The researchers set out to investigate the effect of the tempo of a piece of music on a small group of female volunteers performing either an endurance exercise (walking on a treadmill) or a high-intensity exercise (using a leg press).
The volunteers completed exercise sessions in silence, or while listening to pop music at different tempos.
The researchers recorded a variety of parameters, including the volunteers' opinions about the effort required to complete the exercises and their heart rate while exercising, as a higher heart rate would mean that the exercise was more beneficial for physical fitness.
"We found that listening to high-tempo music while exercising resulted in the highest heart rate and lowest perceived exertion compared with not listening to music," explained Luca Ardigo, Professor at University of Verona in Italy.
"This means that the exercise seemed like less effort, but it was more beneficial in terms of enhancing physical fitness," Ardigo said.
These effects were more noticeable in volunteers completing the endurance exercise sessions, compared with those performing high-intensity exercises, suggesting that people performing endurance activities such as walking or running may receive the greatest benefit from listening to high-tempo music.