Following a study that suggested music can help you exercise, new evidence says high-tempo music is the best type to listen to if you want to make your workout easier and more effective (and let’s face it, who doesn’t want that?).

Italian researchers, whose study has been published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, are the first to show how high-tempo music may make exercise seem less of a chore – but that’s not all, it increases the benefits too. But the effect isn’t the same for all types of exercise, the scientists say. The greatest benefits were seen for endurance exercise, such as walking, rather than high-intensity exercise, such as weightlifting.

The tests involved 19 female volunteers either walking on a treadmill or using a leg press. They either did their exercise in silence or while listening to music at different tempos. And according to Professor Luca Ardigò from Verona University, listening to high-tempo music resulted in the highest heart rate and lowest perceived exertion, compared with working out in silence. “This means that the exercise seemed like less effort, but it was more beneficial in terms of enhancing physical fitness,” Professor Ardigò explains.

The effects were most noticeable in the women using the treadmill, rather than the leg press, which suggests listening to high-tempo music may be more beneficial for people walking or running. This could be because music distracts you from any fatigue or discomfort you may be experiencing.

A sample of just 19 volunteers means the study is a small-scale one. But the researchers say larger studies in the future could explore more ways that music could affect the way we work out (and how well we do it).

“In the current study, we investigated the effect of music tempo in exercise, but in the future we would also like to study the effects of other music features such as genre, melody, or lyrics, on endurance and high intensity exercise,” says Professor Ardigò.

At least it’s something to bear in mind when you’re compiling your next workout playlist,


Photo by Fitsum Admasu on Unsplash