Regular exercise is part of a heart-healthy lifestyle, but sometimes, it can be hard to push through those last few minutes of a workout.
Now, a study shows that adding a little music to a workout routine might help boost exercise performance.
The study looked at 127 people who were undergoing cardiac stress tests and divided them into two groups.
“They gave everyone headphones and half the patients had no music on, and the other half had nice, up-tempo music; and they saw that the ones who got music were able to exercise for about a minute longer,” said Haitham Ahmed, M.D., medical director of cardiac rehabilitation at Cleveland Clinic, who did not take part in the study.
Dr. Ahmed pointed out that the second half of a stress test is more vigorous than a typical workout pace. He said that one extra minute may help increase a person’s likelihood of survival each year.
He said that experts have known for a long time that fitness is one of the most important predictors of a person’s long term health and survival. The key to staying active is to find a way to make exercise fun.
“There have been prior studies looking at different types of music – do you use relaxing music, or up-tempo music? It turns out it really doesn’t matter, as long as you choose what you like and as long as it helps you exercise longer and stay motivated, that’s all that matters,” said Dr. Ahmed.
And while music can certainly add fun to our daily workouts, he said it can also help serve as a distraction to keep pushing us forward.
“Basically, it alters your perception of fatigue,” said Dr. Ahmed. “For example, if you’re exercising, instead of focusing on how tired you are, how short of breath you are, and how fast your heart is racing; when you’re listening to music, it distracts you so that you’re thinking about other things.”
Dr. Ahmed said more research needs to be done to see if music can be used as a tool to help build fitness over time. However, by getting in more exercise, we can definitely improve our heart health, have a better quality of life, a better mood, and less fatigue.
Results of the study were presented at the American College of Cardiology Conference (ACC).