• Tash Casey

Music: How does it help us exercise harder?

Updated: Jun 15, 2018

Exercising is (un)arguably the most important lifestyle choice you can make to improve your health. But it can also be one of the most challenging habits to pick up. Our brains by nature will always look for the ‘path of least resistance’ and this directly competes (and sometimes hinders) any motivation gathered to start or continue a regular exercise program.

There are so many opinions on and offline about the amount of exercising you need to remain healthy, but the general consensus is to aim for at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity. This doesn’t seem like a lot but to our brains it might feel like climbing a mountain.

In a recent study, varsity students were asked to ride bicycles while listening to music. They were given a selection of songs with a range of tempos. During one session, the songs ran at their normal tempos. In other sessions, the tempo was slowed by 10 percent or increased by 10 percent without informing the students about the changes.

When the tempo was slowed, their peddling, heart rates and distance also dropped. When the tempo was increased, they produced more power with each stroke, increased their peddling as well as their heart rates.

On another level, neurologist and author Oliver Sacks has openly spoken about personally experiencing the elemental power of music after he injured his leg mountain climbing and needing to rescue himself down the slope with his elbows. “Then I found a song going through my mind. I would make a big heave and a hop on each beat in the song. In this way, it seemed to me that I was being ‘music-ed’ down the mountain.”

But Why?

Find out in our next article


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