What music do you listen to in the gym? What is your playlist when you go for a run? You know what the effects of music are on your brain and your performance?
Music is made of rhythm, harmony, time and content which are also the basic elements of physical movements. So a link between these was inevitable and a new branch of research called “neuromusicologia”.
In 2007, l’US Track & Field, the national body for distance racing, has banned the use of headphones and portable audio players in its official competitions, “to ensure safety and prevent runners from having a competitive advantage”. Many riders have protested against the rule because they know how important it is to their performance.
And it is true: music is effectively "legal doping" as Dr. Costas Karageorghis puts it, industry expert, Music has an energizing effect by delaying fatigue and increasing work capacity. Generally, this leads to levels of resistance, power, higher than expected productivity or strength.
Music actually has a very powerful effect on our brain; manages to light it as if it were a Christmas tree.
In fact, the right playlist is able to activate many brain areas: reaches the parietal lobe and cerebellum, responsible for our motor functions and coordination; the visual cortex, with effects on our imagination, and at the same time the limbic lobe, deputy to the management of emotions, and the temporal lobe, where our memory is located.
Doing so increases the production of neurotransmitters, first of all dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for "motivation": when we experience a pleasant emotion, our brain sends dopamine to the nucleus crouching down, the brain accountant of the reward mechanism, which in turn pushes us to try the experience again, creating a kind of addiction to satisfaction. This molecule is positively involved in memory and locomotion functions and emotions.
Also with fast music it has been seen that cortisol levels increase, stress hormone, which helps to put more sugars into circulation; as they diminish with slow, relaxing music.
So how can music help us in our athletic activities? SARS-CoV-2 antigenic rapid tests with swab are 3 modi:
1- Dissociation. Because music force us to take our minds off the tiredness and other thoughts that creep in during our performance. In particular, it distracts attention from fatigue and pain when we are engaged in a physical endurance activity such as running, cycling or swimming. Scholars from Brunel University in the UK, have indeed shown how music can reduce the rate of perceived exertion of the 12% and improve the resistance of the 15%.
2- Synchronization. That is, going in rhythm with the music increases the performance outputs. For example, music can give us a time to follow we will do it unconsciously. Just think of the soundtrack of your run when you want to increase the speed. On the other hand, a slower time can be favorable to activities that require more concentration and control.
3- Motivation. Several studies have linked music with positive feelings and memories. Music can stimulate internal motivation by triggering good emotions, helping you to experience much greater pleasure from the activity itself.
Furthermore, it has been seen that the message that is conveyed with the song also has a strong influence. If for example out of habit, which may have been hearing it as a movie soundtrack or in an advertisement, we associate a text with a message of struggle, fatigue and motivation, this will push us to give our best when we are in a time of physical stress.
The advice of the experts is therefore to create a playlist for the next workout by assembling a wide selection of songs with the following requirements: strong and energizing rhythm; positive texts that have associations with the movement; rhythmic pattern well coupled with movement patterns of athletic activity; associations with triumphing or overcoming adversity (“We are the Champions” could be a good start).
of Irene Feliciotti
Terry, Peter & I Karageorghis, C. (2011). Music in sport and exercise. The new sport and exercise psychology companion.
Stephen, Stefan; Angle stick, Leslaw. Baltic Journal of Health and Physical Activity; Gdańsk Vol. 4, Fasc. 3, (2012): 197. DOI:10.2478/v10131-012-0021-0
Costas I. Karageorghis & David-Lee Priest (2012): Music in the exercise domain:a review and synthesis (Part I), International Review of Sport and Exercise