We have all been in the situation where you are in the locker room lacing up your sneakers before your workout and you reach into your gym bag and realize you forgot your headphones. You are almost immediately struck with panic realizing you might have to workout without music. You are now stuck with the decision to either run home and get your headphones and possibly not make it back to the gym or workout with no music. Why is it that working out without headphones makes the gym seem like such a chore?
We all have those go-to songs that seem to give us the energy to either do a heavy lift or push through the last part of a strenuous workout. As soon as you hit play and the music starts, all of a sudden you are filled with the energy needed to do your exercise. Even though this seems like a coincidence, there is actually some science to back up why this is.
There have been numerous studies that show the effect of music tempo and a workout. Sports Medicine-Open conducted a study where they took 34 cardiac rehab patients and gave them a workout to do. One group was given no music to workout to, another group was given audio devices, and the last group was given audio devices with a playlist curated to enhance tempo-pace synchronization. The ones who were given the curated playlist out performed the other groups.
This can easily be shown by when you are on the treadmill listening to music and all of a sudden you realize your feet are moving with the sound of the drums in the song. It seems our brains are wired to go with the pace of the music we listen to.
Music also has great effects on our mood and energy levels. Music has been shown to release chemicals in the brain such as dopamine and opioids. This is why when you are working out while listening to music the exercises can feel significantly easier and make you eager to workout more. These chemicals released also help with pain relief, which is why if you are listening to music you are usually able to push your body further making your workout a more powerful and beneficial one.
Another great benefit of music is a pretty simple one. Music is a great way to distract ourselves from what we are doing. Our brains seem to focus on the music more than what we are doing. You fully understand this concept if you have ever been on the treadmill at the gym listening to music and you set out to do a half hour of cardio and you look down after a little bit and realize you have been on the treadmill for an hour. Being able to distract your mind is a great way to forget about the strain and pain your body is enduring during a workout.