Researchers at Texas Tech confirm what runners and fitness enthusiasts have suspected for years: that listening to music during a cardio session, for example, can improve your endurance.

If you go out for a run, what difference does it make if you can extend your run by 50 seconds? If you’re within 1 minute of the top of the hill or the finish line, that extra time can mean the difference between feeling the euphoria of having reached your goal and failure.

How do you get those extra seconds?

A research team at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center developed a scientific study to measure the potential impact of listening to music, if any, on exercise tolerance during cardiac stress tests.

Doctors routinely use these tests to assess a patient’s heart health. In this test, researchers measured changes in heart rate and blood pressure and noted signs of chest pain or changes in heart rate in participants who underwent physically stressful exercise.

Tests are often performed on a treadmill, following a specific protocol in which the treadmill increases in both speed and incline over 3 levels and 3-minute steps.

In the final stage, the treadmill moves at 5.4 km/h with a 14% incline. Most of these tests are designed to last up to 20 minutes. The average patient lasts 7 to 8 minutes.

Study: the effect of music listening on running.

For this study, they divided 127 participants, all with diabetes and hypertension, into 2 groups:

  • Group 1: this group listened to rhythmic music
  • Group 2: This group had headphones, but did not listen to music.

The group that listened to music (group 1) was able to last more than 50.6 seconds on average than the group that did not listen to music.

Again, being able to last 1 minute longer may not seem like much, but “after 6 minutes, you feel like you’re running up a mountain, so even being able to go on for 50 seconds longer is a lot,” says Dr. Waseem Shami.

Lack of daily activity is linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and obesity as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Doctors recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day. A so-called “moderate” exercise is one that raises the heart rate 50 to 60 percent above its resting rate.

That could mean any brisk walking, swimming or biking or dancing, gardening, etc. even housework counts.

“Our results reinforce the idea that upbeat music has a synergistic effect, so that it makes you want to exercise longer and accompanies your daily exercise routines,” says Shami.

When doctors recommend exercise, they might also suggest listening to music! 😉


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