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Health and Fitness

The Relationship Between Music And The Brain And How It Can Help You Exercise

The affects of music are no longer considered as voodoo. How often has you playlist mirrored your mood, this can be either when you feel empowered or a bit down. As psychology has progressed the study into the affects of music on the brain has multiplied. It’s a causality that is common to all of us; generalised research like this is celebrated because it brings greater understanding to the majority of our lives.  While the direct affects of music on brain activity are a plenty there is not as much research that considers variables such as the listeners reasoning and activity. I am a personal trainer and I always play music when working with my clients. It breaks the ice and motivates me to motivate them. That is why I want to consider and evaluate the affects of music on the brain and how it affects the way we exercise.

Studies have found that there are two types of music that have direct effect of athletic performance. These types of music are called synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous music, by definition is music that has a steady and clear beat while asynchronous music is defined as music that is described as diegetic. It plays within the background.  Dr Costas Karageorghis, an expert within the field of sports psychology found that synchronous music elevated the performance of his athletic subjects by 20%. On the other hand, asynchronous music was shown to calm athletes by as much as 10%. This is just one of his findings. It shows that music does have an effect but it a lot more abstract than that. The results are dependent on the music itself as well as the individual. You may find that you perform more effectively with asynchronous music or quite the opposite.

This is an important factor when considering the affects of music and athletic performance.  When exercising you can be pigeon holed into two brackets. People working out are either associators or a dissociators.  Associators have intrinsic modes of motivation when exercising while dissociators look for external stimuli and distractions. This is the case for many people’s performances. To truly reap the benefits of music when exercising you would have to be an associator. However, it is important to understand yourself and know what benefits you during workouts.

You can start to develop an understanding of your own relationship between activity and music. Are you intrinsically motivated and do you listen to synchronous music? If you are you should create a playlist that will get the best of your workouts. Furthermore. Psychologists have made a map of the archetypal human brain and explained how the brain respond’s and function’s. There are parts of the brain that are triggered when absorbing music. The hippocampus makes memories from music and provides context. This means it can help you visualise and link certain music with intrinsic modes of motivation. Furthermore, the Gerebellum and Amygdala facilitates the emotional reactions you have from music. Again, the reactions are exclusive to the individual and you will be more reactive to different emotional triggers.

In conclusion we understand that music can affect the mind with your own willingness. The questions to ask it whether there is substantial proof and not just a number of character types that make us eligible to pertain the benefit effect so music when we exercise. My arguments is that you may find yourself timing your lift with a drop or a chord progression and feel that it is you being a dope but there is a science behind this little phenomena. R Douglas Fields wrote within ‘The Power of Music: Mind control by Rhythmic Sound’’, that;

“The data recording of brain activity (from emitted alpha and beta waves) shows that neuron activity can become synchronised with auditory rhythm”.

For those who don’t understand the technicalities like me, it simply concludes that rhythmic sound synchronizes with brain waves. This is proof that music has a physical affect on the brain, almost instantaneously. This then facilitates an emotional response that we can harness while working out. The proof is in the gluten free pudding, music scientifically benefits the activity of the brain and therefore the performance of the individual.

Chris is a personal trainer at Origym who enjoys blogging in his spare time. He has a keen interest for anything that is psychological.

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