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Upbeat Music Boosts Exercise Intensity

Music Tempo Alters Your Workout
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WebMD Health News

Oct. 17, 2003 -- Tuning into your favorite fast-paced tunes at the gym may be a sound way to jumpstart your workout.

New research now shows what many Walkman enthusiasts have known for years: listening to upbeat music during exercise can increase the intensity and speed of your workout.

Despite music's popularity at the gym, researchers say few studies have looked at how different types of music affect how intensely people exercise.

Faster Music, Faster Feet

In this study, researchers examined how listening to different music tempos changed exercise intensity and performance.

Healthy volunteers pedaled a stationary bicycle for 60 minutes while listening to prepared audiotapes with music of varying tempo (no tempo, slow, medium, or fast tempo). The cyclists were free to change gears, and the only instructions given were to ride as they felt.

The study showed that pedaling cadence (speed) increased as the tempo of the music increased, ranging from 76 rpm to 84 rpm (no tempo to fast tempo). The heart rate and power output of the cyclists also varied according to the music's tempo and increased as the tempo quickened.

The results of the study were presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation in Kansas City, Mo.

Researchers say the findings show that musical tempo has a small, but significant impact on spontaneous exercise intensity.

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