Feeling inspired by the London Olympics? Then selecting the right music to exercise could hold the key to running efficiently and for longer, according to a leading sports psychologist.
Professor Andy Lane, from the University of Wolverhampton, explains that music can trick the mind into feeling less tired during a workout, especially repetitive movement exercises such as running.
Professor Lane has carried out research into the effects of music and his advice appears on the Livewell section of the NHS website, which features tips on healthy living.
He says: “One of the key objectives in terms of creating a legacy following the Olympics was to get the nation active, but getting started and staying motivated can be a challenge.
“Research suggests that listening to music while exercising can reduce perceptions of effort and fatigue by up to 12%. If you’re listening to music while running, it can distract you from the actual effort of running – you are listening to the beat of a song rather than thump coming from your heartbeat.
“What’s more, research suggests that if you keep in step with the music, your stride will be more rhythmical and therefore more efficient. Tests on walkers found that walking in time to a musical beat improved endurance by 15%.”
He explains that all music has a beats per minute (bpm) – for example Rihanna’s Don’t Stop the Music has 123bpm. Most people find 150bpm a gentle pace and by 190bpm they are running as hard as they can.
Professor Lane, from the University’s School of Sport Performing Arts and Leisure, advises that people should choose music that is appropriate to the task when they are creating a playlist.
“If you want to go for an easy run, select music with a lower bpm such as Search for the Hero by M People (100bpm). If you’re feeling more energetic, choose songs with a higher bpm, such as I See You Baby by Groove Armada (128bpm). Whatever you choose, make sure it’s music you enjoy listening to,” he adds.
“Music can help you get into exercise mode. Have a few motivational songs at the start of your playlist that you can play as you're getting ready. The simple act of pressing ‘play’ flicks a switch in your mind to signal that your session has begun and in a short time you will be out of the door.”
Professor Lane’s tips appear on the NHS website: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/c25k/Pages/running-music.aspx
Professor Andy Lane’s research into music and exercise appears in the journals referred to below – links are included.
Andy Lane is a Professor of Sport Psychology at the University of Wolverhampton. He is accredited from the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) for scientific support and research and Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society. He has authored more than 100 peer refereed journal articles and edited two books.
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