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Effects of Music on Exercise

The purpose of this study is determining the effects that 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 than the first one. The methodology used in this study applied the experimental approach which involved the participation from the 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; i.e. three times a week for a span of at least 35 minutes. Additionally, the participants had to a get the knowledge and experience of exercising on the stationary bike. According to the research ethics requirement while using the experiment approach, the students firstly 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) that is mandatory for any experiment involving the 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 some similar variables experienced by an aerobic exerciser and also channeled its focus on imitating the intensity of people that go to the gym exerting in the efforts of burning calories. The experiment also utilized the three-group design which incorporated three dependable measures; the rate of the perceived exertion reported by an individual (that was calculated basing on the Borg Scale), the mean distance covered, and the 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 it. The experiment setting took place in the active indoor gym at Memphis, the French Riveria Spa, where the participants had to exercise for at least 20 minutes with the sports attire and running shoes; they had 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 provide the students with the ample time for the full recovery in between the two trials. Just before the first trial experiment, we took and recorded the initial height and weight of participants also referred to as stature; entered to the monitors each stationary cycle to assist in calculating the calories expended. The experiment embarked on a five minute warm up of participants followed by a stretching session for another five minutes. After the warm up, the participants took their places on bikes for an initial record of their pulse using the contact heart rate system on bikes. The exercise then began with participants cycling at a constant speed and low intensity aiming at the more distance coverage instead of speed. This first trial involved no music, hence, the exerciser focused only on cycling the stationary bike. For the second trial, the participants had the IPOD Nano headphones with the comfortable volume of music which only played the moment the exercise timer clicked its start. During both trials of the complete twenty minutes of the exercise, we continuously monitored and recorded the observable changes in the participants’ rate of the perceived exertion, heart rate and revolutions made per minute within every five minutes of the period interval. The overall distance cycled and expended calories for each participant; this underwent the critical scrutiny before the recording followed later by another five-minute session for cooling down.

Analysis and Interpretation of Results

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

Caloric Expenditure

Comparing the results of these two trials, with music and without music, the analysis showed that while exercising with music the participants burned additional calories being as the 6.18% increase to the top of the total 202.6 calories that the body burned during the second trial. However, less desirable results of the 190.8 caloric expenditure reading emerged from the first trial that saw the participants exercising without music. These results gave a better explanation to the effects of music during exercises where the results of the second experiment highlighted the fact that music is significantly fundamental during exercises. The incorporation of music in gym or during exercises is setting the motivations to the exerciser pushing harder and sustaining the activity for a longer period than while they were exercising without music. The tempo and music captures the attention of the exerciser and channels both his energy and stimulus to the endurance during the exercise period rather than fatigue and detractive stimulus observed in most individuals that 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 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 exercises or give up entirely. On the other hand, listening to music during exercises depending on the tempo of music triggers the increased consumption of oxygen which contributes to the increased levels of the 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 into exercises, increasing the exerciser’s adherence to exercises meaning that more calories are being burned (Shimomura et al, 1997). Therefore, there is the need for exercise professionals to improve the conditions in the exercising environment; by including music in the exercise setting.

Average Revolutions per Minute

The participants exhibited the same number of revolutions per minute (RPM) during the entire 20 minute exercise period in the trial one (without music). Based on the results illustrated in the 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, during the second trial where participants exercised with music, the results showed that the highest record of the 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 and significant RPM increase gap for the 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 the depressed state of mind; therefore, leading to the persistence in exercises 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 the exercise period. Hence, in this study, the same has been applied; whereby the music aroused the start-up energy for participants in the second trial directing their mindset to the optimal cycling and the maintenance of constant speed; thus, resulting to many RPMs observed. The poor results in the RPM count displayed by participants in the first period reflected back to the lack of music in their exercise environment that has gone into derailing their input into exercise, increased the exhaustion perception and limited the adrenal arousal to keep them energized and focused making more RPMs (Cross, 2004).

Average Heart Rate

As indicated in the Chart 1 of the illustration below, the experiment observed an alarming first of all, displayed in the 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, the participants’ heart rate in the trial one 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 stimuli during the experiment in the trial one automatically meant that participants had to self-stimulate their autonomous nervous system into accelerating their heart; an aspect that they had the limited capability and control over compared to their counterparts that had had a boost from the influence of music on them.

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 thre noticeable differences came about because the participants put in the same efforts in both trials and kept the  constant speed as instructured before the start of the experiment. Therefore, with or without music in any trial they would still exhibit the same RPE with the small notable difference because of the varied levels of intensity input during the 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 on the presence of music in both trials. According to the studies done, the RPE varies depending on the fitness level of participants and the state of ability of the sensitivity of their endocrine systems rather that the influence of music during an exercise (Shepherd & Astrand, 2000). Therefore, since participants met the selection criteria for this experiment, we would assume they had been fit enough, hence, the significant difference of the RPE has been recorded.

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

People have the least power of concentration while exercising because their autonomous nervous system feels less tasked during exercises; therefore, with the help of music things are changed to associative the focus during exercises. Individuals exercising in a quiet environment tend to have the 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 rhythmwith the beats and feeling as per the context of music (Shepherd & Astrand, 2000). Thus, individuals exercising with music tend to be more focused and present mentality in the gym as opposed to those exercising without music.


The results of this study show that exercising with music is more pleasant and this displays the positive results both to the exerciser and to any exercising context. The results explain in-depth the effects that music has on exercises, especially on the exerciser, but regardless of music, some of such variables as the RPE exist that are relatively independent of the music influence. Additonally, music has the ability of determining the attention style of an exerciser from either dissociative to associative in the 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 for exercises such as synchronizing the exercise movements, therefore, defining the choreography like during an aerobics class, decreasing the participants’ anxiety, let’s say before a competition and increasing the rate of perspiration; contributing factors that collectively promote an exemplary performance during exercises (“Association for International Sports Psychology”, 2006).

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