Harvard Heart Letter

Can music make workouts more fun and effective?

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Listening to up-tempo music during interval training may not only make your workout more enjoyable, but also elevate your performance, new research suggests.

Interval training involves short, repeated sessions of intense exercise separated by periods of less vigorous movement. Its an efficient but somewhat challenging strategy to improve fitness. However, music may make these workouts a bit easier, according to a small study in the November 2019 Psychology of Sport and Exercise.

Over the course of several weeks, 24 young adults each did three 10-minute interval workouts under different conditions: listening to music, a podcast, or silence. When they listened to music, their heart rates were slightly faster, they exercised more intensely, and they reported greater enjoyment after their workouts compared with when they listened to a podcast or to nothing.

The study participants had the opportunity to choose their preferred genre of music, but all the songs were at a fast tempo 135 to 142 beats per minute. So if you try this strategy, cue up some high-energy tunes for your intervals.

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