Music plays an important role in people’s lives, especially in terms of exercise and sports. Most athletes enjoy listening to music while working out or before a competition. Dr. Costas Karageorghis, the leading researcher on music for performance in the world with more than 100 studies, says that people can use music as “a type of legal performance-enhancing drug.” Music can enhance athletic performance and can be a compelling intervention for improving both athletes’ actual performance as well as their end result. So, how exactly can music improve athletic performance?
- Dissociation through music diverts the mind
We all know the feeling when working out and beginning to feel the fatigue creeping in. It takes a number of mental strength to push through this pain. In this case, listening to music can help divert our minds away from the fatigue sensation. This process is called dissociation. There are some research showing that music can direct our attention away from feelings of pain or fatigue, therefore improve athletic performance during endurance activities like cycling, running, and swimming. A 2008 study showed that cyclists used 7% less oxygen if they rode in time to music than if they didn’t have anything playing.
Moreover, it has been shown that listening to music while doing exercise can help increase the efficiency of that activity and it can also postpone fatigue. It is especially true if there is a synchrony between the music rhythm and our movements. When it comes to muscle strength, music perceived to be motivating can lead to intensity’s bursts. This can increase our work capacity and create ultra-high levels of explosive strength, and productivity. Think of its influence on high jumps, plyometrics, weightlifting, sprints, and high intensity interval training.
In conclusion, music can improve our athletic performance by allowing us to perform more efficiently to save energy and by directing our minds off our pain or fatigue.