Running with music is an emotive subject. Some love it and won’t leave the house without a playlist to run along with. While others, well, they aren’t so keen. But the facts are that running with music helps a majority of runners enjoy their exercise and can also lead to improvements.
Last year we ran our own little experiment into running and music, finding that music helped to distract people while running and help them run further, longer and even quicker.
Today, we’ve teamed up with Spring Moves, a workout music service & training coach that lets you move to music.
A growing body of research on music and running shows that your favorite playlist has both psychological and physiological benefits to your workouts. Here is how:
1. Feeling less tired
A number of studies indicate that rhythm based movement, i.e. matching cadence to a musical beat, makes people workout longer while exerting the same amount of effort. The reason seems to be that when our bodies synchronize with music move to the beat, we think we are working less hard.
By using music as a metronome for our movement, we essentially trick our minds into going further or faster for the same level of effort.
Different types of music can also have different effects on us. A study by Plymouth University found that music loudness and tempo can boost people’s speeds and heart rates in a predictable manner. Though there’s a ceiling effect on music at around 145 bpm – anything higher doesn’t seem to add much motivation.
So next time you need to power though the final stages of your run, adjusting the volume or increasing the tempo could give you the push that you need.
2. Being more efficient
Not only is there a psychological phenomenon that comes from rhythm based movement, but a beneficial physical response as well. A study in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sports found that time to exhaustion was increased by 18% when runners matched their steps to the beat of the music.
Synchronizing movement to the the beat of music increases oxygen transportation. Sports scientists look at oxygen transportation levels to gauge a person’s athletic performance level and simply put, for the same level of effort, a better athlete uses less oxygen than a less capable athlete.
One study found that cyclists who matched their pedal strokes to the beat of music used 7% less oxygen than cyclists who did not use beat synchronization. The same workout was performed for the same amount of time, but the amount of work it took the body to perform decreased in the former group, meaning the body was able to use oxygen more efficiently when movement was synced to rhythm.
3. Cadence and Injury Prevention
Far too many runners have experienced some version of runners’ injuries. Whether or not running marathons is “good” for you is debatable but what’s not debatable is that improving running form reduces your risk of injury. “We’re inspired by people like Dr. Jordan Metzl (no affiliation) who’s tirelessly preaching “short stride, high cadence,” says Mattias Stanghed, Founder & CEO of Spring Moves. By reducing our stride length and increasing our cadence we minimize the impact on our bodies.
Put differently, if you want to run in a way that minimizes the impact of each footfall, you want as many footfalls per minute as you can. Runners should strive to get their cadence above 170 and ideally closer to 180 Steps Per Minute (SPM) regardless of how fast the person runs. Stanghed explains, “By using music set to a steady tempo (BPM), you can gradually increase your cadence and reach a “less injury prone” form.”
Why do you listen to music? Is it for one of those reasons or do you have a different one?