4/8/16 10:49 AM

Is boosting our energy with some music before we start running good for us? And what types of music help to improve our performance? And, then, what should we listen to when we get home? A recent research study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research confirms how the right notes improve resistance during jogging and shorten our recovery times after exerting effort. At the same time, the study also deflates some common places: it is not necessarily true that fast pace music will actually make us run faster; on the contrary, slower music is decidedly better.

Beats per minute and performances

To conduct the study, the researchers observed 15 participants running a track distance of five kilometres measuring brain activity, excitement and heart rate before and after the race. The test was repeated several times, with and without background music. To scientifically differentiate the tracks, they calculated the beats per minute (bmp) of the music units: the higher the bpm, the faster the music. And so, before departure they chose high rhythmic motivational tracks (around 110-150 bpm). During the race, they alternated these with slower tracks (80-100 bpm, such as “Lose Yourself” by Eminem) and other faster tracks (140-160 bpm, such as “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis). At the end, the runners relaxed to some slower music at 95-110 bpm. But what hits give the most benefits?

Music before and after

The motivational music, the high-intensity, listened to before the race has a positive effect on the adrenaline levels of the runners. This is because it causes a decrease in vagal tone of the nervous system, a process in the brain which affects the functioning of internal organs, including the heart. Music is also useful at the end of a race: according to the researchers, this time the effect is the opposite and helps us recover from the sense of fatigue and regain our normal physiological state much quicker.

We run faster with music

Listening to music during trainers helps boost performance: the case study runners completed the course in an average time of 27 minutes and 20 seconds without a musical background. This time frame was lower when they were listening to music whilst running. But it depends on the hits selected. According to the researchers, the best performance was achieved in combination with slower paces tracks, such as the aforementioned "Lose Yourself" by Eminem: With 5 km in a time of 26 minutes. The runners were six minutes slower listening to rhythmic music, with a high bpm. The conclusion? A high intensity song is not the best ally for optimal performance.

More music, less fatigue

Training whilst listening to music ensures satisfactory results because it distracts us from the perception of fatigue. A study published in the American scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and conducted by a team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, analysed the activity of 27 volunteers, examining respiratory function using spirometry methods, oxygen consumption and muscle tone during training with and without music. The team led by Dr. Thomas Hans Fritz noted that those who listened to music suffer less fatigue. And even the muscles use less energy. The best results were achieved when it was the runner himself who chose the playlist: music, especially the tracks we love, is able to dispel unpleasant proprioceptive sensations and create a more conducive emotional state in relation to fatigue and effort.