Pump Up the Jams! It’s Science.
Earbuds seem ubiquitous in gyms and parks. The mood-lifting role of music in our lives is inarguable, but an interesting question remains. Does the music serve as only entertainment, or is music a performance enhancer? Science says . . . music actually enhances your workouts
Earbuds seem ubiquitous in gyms and parks. The mood-lifting role of music in our lives is inarguable, but an interesting question remains. Does the music serve as only entertainment, or is music a performance enhancer? Science says . . . music actually enhances your workouts.
Music Enhances Workout Capacity
One interesting study was published in the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise.1 They monitored people cycling with and without music. Even though participants all were cycling at 75% of their maximum heart rates, people with music pedaled faster.
Lyrics Make Workout Music More Effective
Xavier Sanchez (Department of Psychology at the University of Groningen) also found that lyrics make music even more effective. Their research shows that music with lyrics and the same music without lyrics causes people to pedal more effectively at the same heart rates. Music with lyrics, however, had a stronger effect farther into the workout. Music lifts people during exercise, but lyrics keep that lift higher as the exercise continues.
Warm-up Music Works, Too
What if music is not exactly an option? During games, swimming, or while exercising on streets with traffic, many people opt out of or don’t have an option for music. Getting pumped up with music beforehand is one popular strategy sometimes referred to as pre-task music or warm-up music. Morgan Karow (Department of Kinesiology, Samford University) had participants warm up with no music, with music they preferred, and with music they did not prefer. Then they performed a 2,000-meter rowing time trial. Music they did not prefer was not beneficial. Warming up to personally preferred music resulted in significantly higher power output, significantly faster time trials, and significantly elevated heart rates.
Whether during or before a workout or competition, music seems to enhance performance. For a more effective workout, pump up not just “tha” jams, but “your” jams.
- Sanchez X, Moss SL, Twist C, Karageorghis CI. On the role of lyrics in the music–exercise performance relationship. Psychology of Sport and Exercise. 2014 Jan 1;15(1):132-8.
- Karow MC, Rogers RR, Pederson JA, Williams TD, Marshall MR, Ballmann CG. Effects of Preferred and Nonpreferred Warm-Up Music on Exercise Performance. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 2020 Oct;127(5):912-24.