While driving today I heard Vivaldi’s Gloria in excelsis Deo, which is a very rousing tune, so I turned up the volume and I found tears in my eyes, for no reason I could explain. The music had an immediate effect on me that is not explained by a past connection, or associated memory; the tears just came. Why is that? I am wondering.
I have found this before, that certain types of music can have a profound effect on my mood, usually up-lifting. I think it may be just joy and appreciation of such beautiful melody or musicianship, but it is not a conscious thought.
We should capitalise on this phenomenon of the mood enhancing qualities of music in our exercise world, and use specially chosen music to listen to while exercising, as inspiration to ‘go for it’. It obviously depends on the mode of exercise, but participation in most types of physical activity may benefit from a boost in exertion levels, even if it is merely psychological enhancement with no measurable increase in performance, simply heightened enjoyment and lower feelings of effort.
Many studies have been done on the effects of music choice on exercise performance, for example a study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (2011) suggested that athletic performance improved when the subject was allowed to choose their own music. The study showed performance improvement in squats when music (chosen by the subject) was on, and increased take-off velocity in jumps. The study subjects did report more fatigue after exercising to their chosen tunes, (probably because they were able to produce more work) but they also reported greater levels of vigour.
In case you’ve never tried it, have a go at putting your favourite tracks together on a playlist, and whilst the music is pumping out loud, feel your muscular input soaring, whilst your feelings of effort level off or decrease.
Just watch out for the strange looks you might get when you find yourself warbling out the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody whilst running in public.