Can music improve athletic performance based on science?

I don’t know about you but I listen to music a lot. I just love how music makes me feel good even when I’m not in a good mood.

There are many different kinds of music that can give us different kinds of emotions. But does music affect only our mood or can it also affect our physical performance?

In other words, can music improve athletic performance based on science? Let’s find out the answer in this article.

What is music and music tempo?

We all know what music is. However not everybody may be familiar with what music tempo is. So, let’s start with some boring stuff just to be sure that we are on the same page.

According to Merriam-Webster music is defined as the science or art of ordering tones or sounds in succession, in combination, and in temporal relationships to produce a composition having unity and continuity.

The kid’s definition is that music is the art of producing pleasing or expressive combinations of tones especially with melody, rhythm, and usually harmony.

Both definitions seem not as sensational as listening to music itself can be though, right? Anyway, let’s move on.

So, what is tempo? Tempo is the speed at which a piece of music is played. Tempo is usually measured as beats per minute (BPM). For example, a tempo notated as 60 BPM would mean that a beat sounds exactly once per second.

Let’s move to the fun part now.

Can music improve athletic performance based on science?

A review of 22 studies says that music may be helpful during cardiorespiratory and muscle-strengthening exercises, especially in strength-endurance tasks. However, these results may not be final because there’s not enough qualitative studies on this topic yet. [1]

Another meta-analysis of 139 studies involving 3,599 participants showed that listening to music significantly enhanced feeling states, increased physical performance, reduced perceived exertion, and improved oxygen consumption efficiency across a broad range of exercise- and sport-related tasks. [2]

Also, studies show that the type of music (e.g., self-selected, motivational) plays a crucial role in improving the effects of exercise performance and cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness components in particular. [1]

Music tempo plays an important role too. As expected, fast-tempo music (about 120+ bpm) yielded a stronger performance benefit than slow-to-medium tempo music. [2]

So, can listening to music improve your workout? Indeed, it looks like some songs can better improve your performance than others. If you want to get the most benefits out of listening to music then it’s recommended to choose self-selected motivational and fast-tempo music.


So, can music improve athletic performance based on science? Well, scientific research shows that music can significantly improve our physical performance and mood states.
However, it’s important to listen to specific types of music such as self-selected motivational music with fast tempo.

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