Pump up the volume! Research has found that the right music can make your workout feel easier and help you get more out of it

Listening to upbeat music while doing rigorous exercise, like a HIIT workout, makes it seem less tough and could help you get fit faster.

Consisting of brief, repeated bouts of intense exercise separated by periods of rest, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are extremely effective, but many people find it to be a gruelling way to get fit.

“While HIIT is time-efficient and can elicit meaningful health benefits among adults who are insufficiently active, one major drawback is that people may find it to be unpleasant. As a result, this has the potential to discourage continued participation,” says researcher Matthew Stork, a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences at University of British Columbia Okanagan.

Up the beat to up the burn

Stork tested the effect of music on participants who were insufficiently active, used a rigorous music selection, and implemented a HIIT regimen for less-active adults.

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A group of 24 participants completed a 10-minute HIIT workout with motivational music, with no audio or with a podcast.

Participants reported greater enjoyment of HIIT, exhibited elevated heart rates and peak power in the session with music compared to the no-audio and podcast sessions.

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“The more I look into this, the more I am surprised,” he says. “We believed that motivational music would help people enjoy exercise more, but we were surprised about the elevated heart rate. That was a novel finding.”

Stork believes the elevated heart rates may be explained by a phenomenon called ‘entrainment’.

“Humans have an innate tendency to alter the frequency of their biological rhythms toward that of musical rhythms. In this case, fast-tempo music may have increased people’s heart rate during the exercise. It’s incredible how powerful music can be.”

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Why music works

“Music is typically used as a dissociative strategy. This means that it can draw your attention away from the body’s physiological responses to exercise such as increased heart rate or sore muscles,” says Stork. “But with high-intensity exercise, it seems that music is most effective when it has a fast tempo and is highly motivational.”

Source: University of British Columbia Okanagan campus via www.sciencedaily.com

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.