Music Increases Endurance?

Posted by Filed Under: Science and Research

You have no doubt heard people tout the positive motivational effect that music can have on your running, but according to new research it may be more than just a motivational tool.

Scientists at Brunel University’s School of Sport and Education have been researching the role of motivational music on sport and exercise for 20 years. It is expected that they will soon publish the results of this newest study that indicate that music can increase a person’s endurance by as much as 15%.

According to the school’s press release;

“Thirty participants exercised on a treadmill while listening to a selection of motivational rock or pop music, including tracks by Queen, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Madonna. They were asked to keep in strict time with the beat. The findings show that when carefully selected according to scientific principles, music can enhance endurance by 15% and improve the ‘feeling states’ of exercisers, helping them to derive much greater pleasure from the task.”

I would argue that everyone has an ideal cadence when they run and hitting that cadence will make you faster and increase your endurance. If running with music can help you achieve that specific cadence, then it is no surprise that running with music would boost performance. Hopefully, I don’t have to include Madonna and Queen on my playlist to witness these benefits.

Dr. Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University went on to say that “the synchronous application of music resulted in much higher endurance while the motivational qualities of the music impacted significantly on the interpretation of fatigue symptoms right up to the point of voluntary exhaustion.”

That’s a lot of big words, but I think that Dr. Karageorghis is saying that you might be less likely to pick up on your body’s fatigue signals when you run with music, allowing you to run further. The principles of this study were actively put to the test this year in the Sony Ericsson RUN To The Beat Half Marathon in London, UK on October 5th. During the event, bands located at 17 stations along the course played scientifically selected music to help the runners achieve their best possible performance. There’s no word yet on how many of the runners set new personal records, nor on how many of those runners have vowed to never listen to Madonna again.

About Ian

Hello, my name is Ian and I'm a runner. After several years of promising to train for and run the Bolder Boulder 10K I finally signed up for it in 2005 with zero training under my belt. Shocked that I was slower than I thought I should be, I made it my goal to be faster the following year. I'm still not as fast as I should be, but I have been a runner ever since. I believe in quality miles over quantity of miles. I believe that you have to run faster in order to run faster, and I believe that I can. I believe in the Garmin. I believe in motion control and that I have an unhealthy addiction to running shoes. I believe in carb loading and tapering, even before a 5K. I believe I’ll never need to buy another t-shirt ever again. I live to run and I run for the post race spread, where the free food and drink flows like milk and honey, and sometimes even includes milk and honey.

  1. Kristina Pinto on October 16th at 12:13 pm

    Fabulous. The USATF is gonna jump all over this as new support for the iPod ban. Let’s hope they don’t read the article until after my November marathon.

    Kristina Pintos last blog post..Detour Ahead

  2. Duff on October 30th at 6:54 am

    I couldn’t run with out my music. I would have to use only my inner monlogue and internal soundtrack. Forget the USATF their rules have already ruined the Nike Women’s Marathon.
    Rock on. I will.

    Duffs last blog post..My internal soundtrack – Externalized

  3. Colorado Running on October 31st at 1:05 pm

    30 participants is a rather small sample size, that is for certain.

    What I notice about music and fatigue is that the music drowns out my breathing, sometimes if I don’t have it and am tired and hear myself laboring, I start thinking that I am hurting more than I probably am.

    Plus, we all know that the only music that will make you faster is AC/DC.

  4. Monica on June 24th at 7:31 am

    Nice post. Agree with your thoughts on cadence…or I think of it as your “pace”. I find that watching the BPM (beats per minute) of songs can help ensure I am not subconsciously slowing down to the beat of the song. When I’m warmed up and running hard, I need to be around 160 – 170 BPMs. ie. Eye of the Tiger is only 109 BPM…good song, but way too slow.

  5. Hemuni on August 1st at 6:14 am

    I used to run with music, but after my 3rd gen shuffle gave in to humidity I’ve gotten used to going without and have found that I actually prefer it like this. There are no tracklist to maintain and the music doesn’t get in the way of my training with of rythm beats.

    But, if you like running at a certain bpm I recomend trying the itunes podcast “Podrunner”. They are fixed bpm music mixes about an hour long. Great for a steady pace and free.

  6. AllPros on September 23rd at 4:37 pm

    First time visitor, but this is a great blog.

    Interesting. I always train with music, but don’t listen to music when in a race. I don’t need music with the adrenalin of the race.