Effects of Music on Exercise essay

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Basing on the purpose of this study: determining the effects music has on the average distance covered on a stationary bike given a stipulated time frame, in relation to the cyclers perceived exertion rate; the methods used for the study indicated better results in a second trial that the first. The methodology used in this study applied the experiment approach which involved the participation of University of Memphis male undergraduates aged between twenty to twenty-three years. The study group selection criteria are based on the participants’ qualification of indulgence in the exercise or any physical activity weekly; three times for a span of at least 35 minutes. Additionally, the participants had to a have knowledge and experience of exercising on a stationary bike. According to the research ethics requirement when using the experiment approach, the students first signed a consent form detailing the reasons for conducting the study and what the research experiment expected of them; not forgetting the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q) mandatory for any experiment involving physical exertion. Later on, every participant filled a post exercise questionnaire that focused on establishing the effects that the exercise had on their perceived rate of exertion as well as their mental health (Castleton, 1998).

This study experiment attempted to simulate similar variables experienced by an aerobic exerciser and also channeled its focus on the imitating the intensity; of people who go to the gym exert in an effort of burning calories. The experiment also utilized the three-group design which incorporated three dependable measures; the rate of perceived exertion reported by the individual (calculated basing on the Borg Scale), the mean distance covered and average heart rate. The design aimed at discovering a significant margin and the existence of differences between the dependent measures while exercising with music or without music. The experiment setting took place in an active indoor gym at the Memphis, French Riveria Spa where the participant had to exercise for at least 20minutes with sports attire and running shoes; to simulate the same experience felt by an exerciser performing a cardio-workout in a gym environment.

The study procedure followed the plotted two-day trial experiment plan to give the students ample time for full recovery in between the two trials. Just, before the first trial experiment, we took and recorded the initial height and weight of the participants also referred to as stature; entered to the monitor’s of each stationary cycle to assist in calculating the calories expended. The experiment embarked on a five minute warm up of the participants followed by a stretching session for another five minutes. After the warm up, the participants took their places on the bikes for an initial record of their pulse using the contact heart rate system on the bikes. The exercise then began with the participants cycling at a constant speed and low intensity aiming for more distance coverage instead of speed. This first trial involved no music hence the exerciser focused only on cycling the stationary bike. On the second trial, the participants had the IPOD Nano headphones with comfortable volume of music which only played the moment the exercise timer clicked start. During both trial of the twenty minute exercise, we continuously monitored and recorded the observable changes in the participants’ rate of perceived exertion, heart rate and revolutions made per minute within every five minute period interval. The overall distance cycled, and expended calories for each participant underwent critical scrutiny before recording followed later by another five-minute session for cooling down.

Analysis and Interpretation of results

According to results from the experiment, the participants covered more distance during cycling, increased calorie expenditure, revolutions made per minute and the mean heart rate during the second trial (with music) compared to exercise performance in the first trial that saw less distance covered versus the rate of perceived exertion without music.

Caloric Expenditure

Comparing the results of the two trials, with music and without music, analysis showed that when exercising with music the participants burned additional calories averaging to a 6.18% increase on top of the total 202.6 calories that the body burned during the second trial. However, less desirable results of a 190.8 caloric expenditure reading emerged from the first trial that saw the participants exercise without music. These results gave a better explanation to the effects of music during exercise where the results of the second experiment highlight that music is significantly fundamental during exercise. The incorporation of music in a gym or exercise setting motivates the exerciser to push a little harder and sustain the activity for a longer period than when they exercise without music. The tempo and music captures the attention of the exerciser and channels both their energy and stimulus to endurance during the exercise period rather than fatigue and detractive stimulus observed in most individuals who exercise without music (Castleton, 1998). This increased endurance in return ensures that the exerciser’s input remains either constant or gradually increases according to the tempo of the music. Hence the individuals who exercise with music will tend to burn, more calories, as opposed to their counterparts; who get fatigued and distracted and end up with less input into exercise or give up entirely. On the other hand, listening to music during exercise depending on the tempo of the music triggers the increased consumption of oxygen which contributes to increased levels of calories burned. This is because the adequacy of oxygen goes to ensure that the body strikes a balance between the cardiac output and intensity put in exercise, increasing the exercisers adherence to exercise meaning more calories burned (Shimomura et al, 1997). Therefore, there is need for exercise professionals to improve the conditions in an exercising environment; by including music in the exercise setting.

Average Revolutions per Minute

The participant exhibited the same number of revolutions per minute (RPM) during the entire 20minute exercise period in trial one (without music). Based on the results illustrated in graph 1.1 below, the most revolutions made occurred in the first five minutes of the experiment and gradually declined until the last minute of the experiment; statistically this ranged from 69.5 rpm to 68.69 rpm. However, on the second trial where participants exercised with music, results showed a the highest record of RPM with a remarkable number of 71.4 rpm in the first five minutes that they exercised without music and a tremendous increase of 3.0 rpm every five minutes throughout the entire trial time frame totaling to 74.4 rpm. The experiment recorded a notable, significant RPM increase gap of 8.5% when participants exercised with music, compared to the first trial (without music). These outstanding results relate to the fact that music motivates exercisers, stimulating their adrenaline rush positively hence eliminating the exhaustion perception and depressed state of the mind; therefore leading to persistence in exercise resulting to more repetitions made per minute. Music also has attained the best reputation in synchronizing the body to channel the best energy and maintain it throughout an exercise period. Hence in this study the same applied; whereby the music aroused the start-up energy for participants in the second trial directing their mindset to optimal cycling and maintenance of constant speed; thus resulting to the many RPM’s observed. The poor results in RPM count displayed by the participants in the first period reflected back to the lack of music in their exercise environment that went into derailing their input into exercise, increased exhaustion perception and limited adrenal arousal to keep them energized and focused on making more RPM’s (Cross, 2004).

Average Heart Rate

As indicated in chart 1 illustration below, the experiment observed an alarming first, five-minute increase in the average heart rate followed by a gradual heart rate increase every five minutes for the next fifteen minutes for the participants exercising with music. On the contrary, trial one participants’ heart rate reached a plateau and remained stagnant for the next fifteen minutes after the five minutes start up mark, as the heart rate for participants in the second trial kept rising gradually till the last minute mark.

The above difference relates to the positive effect that music has on the Sympathetic Nervous System; music ignites the functions of the autonomous nervous system that in return induces an increase in blood pressure, leading to more blood pumped into the heart hence accelerating the heart rate; and consequently the resultant high mean heart rate (Shimomura et al,1997). Therefore, the lack of this stimulus during the experiment in trial one automatically meant that the participants had to self-stimulate their autonomous nervous system into accelerating the heart; an aspect that they had limited capability and control over compared to their counterparts who had a boost from the influence of music.

Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)

Relatively, the experiment recorded no significant RPE differences between the participants exercising with music and those without. The lack of noticeable difference came about because the participants put in the same effort, in both trials, and maintained constant speed as instructed before the start of the experiment. Therefore, with or without the presence of music in either trial they would still exhibit the same RPE with small notable difference; because of the varied levels of intensity inputted during warm-up and the five minutes of cycling. This only means that these dependent variables already discussed above did not rely on the participants efforts but rather the presence of music in both trials. According to studies done, RPE varies depending on the fitness level of the participant and the state of the ability of the sensitivity of their endocrine systems rather that the influence of music during an exercise (Shepherd & Astrand, 2000). Therefore, since the participants for this experiment met the selection criteria, we would assume they were at fit enough hence the significant difference of RPE recorded.

Reffering to the post exercise questionnaire used to evaluate the participants thoughts, Graph 1.2 below revealed the other reasons that affected the self-reported ratings. Basing the evaluation against the Borg scale the participants shared having less focus of 3.53 out of 10 when exercising without music compared to the 6.60 out of 10 focus; they exhibited with music. They also exhibited high motivation levels of 6.2 out of 10 as opposed to trial one (without music) 4.47 out of 10 results (Cross, 2004).

Borg 10 Point Scale

•              0 - Nothing at all

•              1 - Very light

•              2 - Fairly light

•              3 - Moderate

•              4 - Somewhat hard

•              5 - Hard

•              6

•              7 - Very hard

•              8

•              9

•              10 - Very, very hard

People have the least power of concentration when exercising because their autonomous nervous system feels less tasked during exercise; therefore, with the aid of music this changes things to associative focus during exercise. Individuals exercising in a quiet environment tend to have distracting thoughts; ranging from what people think of them in the gym to how they would pay their children's school fees. However, incorporating music in exercise channels the exercisers thoughts to the rhythm, beats and feeling as per the context of the music (Shepherd & Astrand 2000). Thus, individuals exercising with music tend to be more focused and present mentally at the gym as opposed to those exercising without music.


The result of this study shows that exercising to music is more pleasant and displays positive results both to the exerciser and in any exercising context. The results explain in-depth the effects that music has on exercise especially on the exerciser, but regardless of music some of variables such as RPE exist that are relatively independent of music’s influence. Additonally, music has the ability of determining the attention style of an exerciser from either dissociative to associative in connection to their workout environment. Furthermore, music can put an individual just in the state of exercising or ‘zone’; where they are just performing the task, but their conscious mind has drifted somewhere else. Moreover, music has other benefiting effects in exercise such as synchronizing the exercise movements, therefore, defining the choreography like in an aerobics class, decreasing the participants’ anxiety lets say before a competition and increasing the rate of perspiration; contributing factors that collectively promote exemplary performance during exercise (Association for International Sports Psychology, 2006).

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