There have been many studies now that show how music can help both the recreational sports participator and professional athlete in their training and sports performance.
It would seem that we are hard wired to process music on an emotional level, which has been recognised for some time, but also on a motor level (the control of physical movement) which is the area much of the recent research has been highlighting. Different music, with differing structures, tone, beat and rhythm resonates with networks within the brain. When these networks interact it can influence complex motor systems such as athletic activities.
Recent scientific studies have discovered a number of ways in which music impacts on both training and competitive performance.
Focus on the sound and enjoy your workout
At low and moderate intensity training, music has a number of effects, one of which is the power to divert the mind from feelings of fatigue and thus lowering the perception of effort required for the work-out.
In addition to this, music can induce positive feelings which can increase happiness and enthusiasm whilst also diminishing any feelings of depression, tension or poor attitude.
At high intensity training, whilst the physiological feedback from the body dominates, meaning that the effects of music on perception of effort are minimised, music still has the effect of improving the experience and making the work out more enjoyable, so the athlete still benefits.
Music arouses the senses
Music has the power to affect emotional and physiological arousal. This means it can be used in advance of competing to stimulate the athlete or even to calm the athlete down in instances of high anxiety. So some athletes will use rousing music to gear them up for the high demands of competition whilst others will listen to soothing and calming music to help rid them of unwanted nervousness and anxious feelings.
Synchronising movement with the beat
Synchronising repetitive style exercise with music has been shown to improve work out levels in a variety of activities. Events such as running and rowing along with training exercises such as treadmill and cross trainers are obvious examples where this is the case.
The process of regulating movement through the beat of music not only extends performance parameters but also helps athletes to function in a more efficient manner.
Music improves movement
There have been a number of studies that have shown how music can influence specific movement in a range of sporting activities. Dance is an ideal example of how music can enhance planes of motion and structure the coordination of a multitude of motor skills.
Music therefore can help in the attainment of flow, helping athletes and even the recreational sportsperson get ‘in the zone’ thus improving the motivation and physiological conditions required to excel in sporting achievement.