Music motivates you – it’s scientifically proven!

By Jennifer Sage On October 8, 2012 Under Cadence, motivation, Music

We’ve known it for a long time in the indoor cycling world, haven’t we? But isn’t it nice to get some scientific proof to back up what we know as sacrosanct?

Music moves us! It pushes us beyond what we might normally do, it allows us to enjoy the challenges of exercise, and helps reduce our perception of suffering.

A few exercise physiologists, including Dr. Carl Foster (who created the Talk Test which makes our lives as instructors so much easier) have teamed up in an ACE sponsored study to examine the effects of music on exercise intensity. This article reviews the seven studies examined by Dr. Foster and his team. They also look into the work of Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D., from London’s Brunel University School of Sport and Education, one of the world’s leading authorities on music and exercise.

Karageorghis is quoted as saying “music is like is a legal drug for athletes. It can reduce the perception of effort significantly and increase endurance by as much as 15 percent.”

I’m especially interested to find out more about the three things Karageorghis has identified about music that could possibly influence exercise performance:

  • the tendency to move in time with synchronous sounds (e.g., tapping your toe in time with music or the beat of a drum)
  • the tendency of music to increase arousal (e.g., the desire to move rather than to sit)
  • the tendency for music to distract the exerciser from discomfort that might be related to exercise

I can’t wait to hear more about this study!

One thing this article makes me wonder is whether riding to the precise beat of the music (that is, having your rpm match the bpm) might have an increased psychological benefit, like they are suggesting in some of these studies. The parallel would be Dr. Foster’s example of the Roman galleys where they beat a gong to help the rowers keep to the same pace, which is the exact rhythm of the drum.

I personally prefer to ride to the beat and to have my music match my message in my profiles (via the cadence), but I see many instructors use songs that are so much different than the rpm they are requesting. If you ask students to ride at 85-90 rpm but you give them a 130-150 bpm song which would normally encourage an rpm of 65-75, I wonder if that throws off some of their potential enjoyment of riding to the music on a subconscious level because they’d be out of synch? In other words, if they are trying to do what you are asking (pedal fast) when their internal tendency is to pedal slower in order to keep to the beat, might there be some unexplained confusion in their heads?

I wonder if that is something that can be studied? It goes beyond the scope of the studies they are examining, and it is specific to indoor cycling and not just exercise, but it sure would be interesting to know. Does anyone else wonder the same thing?


1 Trackback

  1. Encouragement to the “Resolutioners.” | Steel City Kitty
    January 7, 2016 6:48 PM

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Sophie
    October 10, 2012
    4:22 am #comment-1

    I’m a cycle instructor in Sydney Australia, and while traveling in the States last year I thought I’d give the American “spin” class a go and was shocked when I found the majority of instructors I experienced didn’t use the beat. Why bother with music if it’s just playing in the background?? In Sydney it’s ALL about picking the music and the beat that matches the style of track you want to teach (i.e. endurance pace or mountain, etc). I know riding to the beat helps my participants’ motivation, so it’s good to see there’s science behind this idea too.

  2. Sarah Trejo
    November 15, 2012
    5:50 pm #comment-2

    Have you seen the Oliver Sacks study with “Henry”? Talk about the power of music! Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FWn4JB2YLU

    I just love this video because it really shows what a true connection we have with music and how it can literally wake us up.

  3. Elizabeth
    March 22, 2014
    9:15 am #comment-3

    I started taking classes about 15 years ago and finally became certified recently. I originally learned from the first few instructors I had, to ride with the beat and I loved it. I hadn’t been able to find an instructor like that since I moved home to Ohio. I just taught my first class strictly to the beat of the music this past week…. I used the website tempotap.com (my brother, a musician, told me about it) to find the BPM’s of the songs I wanted to use and it was great. You just tap the spacebar to the beat of the music you have playing and it tells you the BPM’s….. I would love to continue teaching this style (it does take time though – hopefully I will get faster) because I just find it to be more FUN for my class, which is my ultimate goal for them besides a good workout. I learned in my certification class that the music is intended to be used to “enhance the ride, not be the ride,” but, I agree with you, I just feel that there’s more to it than that!

Add a comment

  • Avatars are handled by Gravatar
  • Comments are being moderated