Upbeat music can make tough exercises easier to do

“We believed that motivational music would help people enjoy the exercise more, but we were surprised about the elevated heart rate,” Stork told Healthline

ISLAMABAD(Online): High-intensity interval training (HIIT) — characterized by brief, repeated sessions of intense exercise separated by periods of rest — can be challenging for anyone. It’s especially difficult to start a HIIT workout if you’ve been relatively inactive.

“While HIIT is time-efficient and can elicit meaningful health benefits among adults who are insufficiently active, one major drawback is that people may find it to be unpleasant,” says Matthew Stork, a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences at Canada’s University of British Columbia, Okanagan.

“As a result, this has the potential to discourage continued participation.” The answer may be music. Research led by Stork and published in the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise shows that upbeat music can make HIIT workouts seem less difficult. It may even motivate people who aren’t active to start exercising. Stork worked with Brunel University London researcher Costas Karageorghis, an expert on music and exercise, to assemble a panel of experts to assess 16 high-tempo songs and select three that they considered the most motivating.

The songs chosen were “Let’s Go” by Calvin Harris (featuring Ne-Yo), “Bleed It Out” by Linkin Park, and “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. All had higher-than-average tempos in excess of 135 beats per minute (bpm). Researchers then put a group of 24 participants through a brief HIIT workout — three 20-second all-out sprints separated by short rest periods for a total of 10 minutes (including warmup and cooldown periods).

Workout performance was assessed with the motivational music as well as with a non-musical podcast playing and sessions with no audio. Participants self-reported greater enjoyment of HIIT when the music was playing. Their heart rate and peak performance during the workout also were elevated along with the beat. “We believed that motivational music would help people enjoy the exercise more, but we were surprised about the elevated heart rate,” Stork told Healthline. He noted that the findings reflect a known phenomenon called “entrainment,” which is the tendency of humans to alter their biological rhythms to the beat of music.

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