Fitness

Why you should listen to music when you exercise

Listening to music while exercising could stop you feeling tired, research suggests (stock)
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People should listen to music when they exercise, new research suggests.

A study by Brunel University London found that hearing Marvin Gaye’s ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ while being active stimulates the region of the brain associated with easing fatigue.

The study’s participants, who only heard that one tune, claimed listening to the 11-minute song made it feel like their exercise routine was over in just 60 seconds, with many adding they found it easier and less boring when the song was being played.

Study author Dr Marcelo Bigliassi said: ‘Music is a very powerful stimulus and can be used to assuage negative bodily sensations that usually arise during exercise.’

He worries, however, people are becoming dependent on music in an attempt to ‘escape reality’, with future generations potentially being unable to tolerate fatigue during exercise without music.

Listening to music while exercising could stop you feeling tired, research suggests (stock)

DOES EXERCISE HELP BACK PAIN?

Being highly active reduces the risk of chronic lower-back pain by 16 per cent, research suggested in July 2017.

Regular moderate activity lowers the risk of such discomfort by 14 per cent, a study review found.

Yet, exercise has no impact on short-term back pain or that which causes hospitalisation or disability, the research adds.

Dr Joel Press, physiatrist-in-chief at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, who was not involved in the study, said: ‘We were meant to move. We were not meant to be stagnant in any way.

‘Generally lower impact, walking type things are probably the starting point. 

‘Swimming is another low-impact activity that puts less load on your back’. 

Dr Press advises back-pain sufferers avoid sports that involve a lot of twisting and turning, such as golf and tennis. 

The researchers, from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki, analysed data from 36 studies that included a total of 158,475 people.

The studies’ participants did not have back pain at the start of the investigations.

Physical activity was defined as sport and intentional exercise, as well as walking and climbing stairs.

The participants were considered active if they engaged in physical activity at least twice a week for a minimum of 60 minutes.  

How the research was carried out  

The researchers had 19 healthy adults, with an average age of 24, perform a handgrip exercise while both listening to ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ and not.

For a total of 10 minutes, the participants grasped a silicone grip for 10 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest.

MRI scans were carried out on the participants throughout the experiment to determine the regions of their brains that were activated. The handgrip test was chosen due to MRI scans requiring a person’s head remains still. 

At the end of the task, the participants were asked how exhausted they felt, whether they daydreamed during the exercise and if they had any discomfort in their hands. 

The findings were published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology. 

‘Music stimuli can and should be used’ 

After performing the task while listening to music, the participants claimed the tune made it easier, with one saying ‘it was so boring without music’ and another ‘I got so distracted with [the] music that it felt like the whole exercise took only one minute.’ 

In terms of brain region activation, the findings suggest hearing music activates an area of the organ that is associated with both movement and fatigue. 

Although the music was distracting, results further suggest the song did not reduce the participants’ hand pain after the exercise had ended.

The researchers believe this may be due to music taste being very personal and therefore different people may report different results depending on the tune they are hearing, however, all of the participants found the song pleasant.

They added the handgrip test is a light form of exercise and therefore more intense activity may produce different results.

In summary, Dr Bigliassi told PsyPost: ‘My view is that music stimuli can and should be used and promoted, but with due care.

‘[However] I have some concerns about the exaggerated use of music during exercise. This is because, as humans, we are constantly trying to escape from reality and, also, escape from all forms of physical discomfort/pain.’

He adds people should learn other methods of coping with pain and fatigue during exercise aside from just being distracted by music.

 


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