I enjoy listening to music when I am skateboarding, snowboarding or biking and I’m sure many of you enjoy listening to music while you are working out or to pump you up right before a big game. I listen to music during these activities because it helps me focus, try harder, and stay motivated. I began to wonder if there was some science behind why listening to music while doing something athletic seems to help me perform better.
Music can be a great motivator, especially when you want to perform at the peak of your athletic ability. Music can help us focus on the task at hand and drown out weighing factors such as fatigue. A study conducted by Brunel University had thirty participants run on a treadmill while motivational or pop music was played. The participants were instructed to keep running on the treadmill while following the beat of the music. The scientists found that participants could go for much longer, to the point of near exhaustion for some, while listening to motivational or pop music. The scientists also noted that the participants were in the “feeling state”, meaning that they felt good, while exercising more often when they were listening to motivational or pop music. The study concluded that listening to motivational and pop music can increase endurance by 15% and make working out more enjoyable.
While I believe this study was conducted well and shows positive results towards music positively increasing athletic performance, I believe a confounding variable for this study would be a person’s music taste. The study concluded that only pop and “motivational” music increase endurance while running due to the upbeat tempo of the music. Clearly not everyone has the same taste in music and it makes me wonder if pop or motivational music would be as effective for people who do not like either of those types of music. For example, would someone who enjoys listening to rock and roll experience the same boost in performance from listening to pop music as someone who enjoys listening to pop music would?
It is no fault of the study since it was conducted this way purposefully but I believe it would be interesting to see the results of listening to different types of music and running on a treadmill while being told NOT to keep tempo with the music (At least not deliberately). On a similar train of thought as before, would a person who likes rock and roll perform the same as someone who likes pop music if they are both listening to their preferred types of music?
Brunel University Study Source – https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081001093753.htm