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Fast-Tempo Music Motivates During Exercise

Tunes with 137–160 beats per minute enhance exercise performance.

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Music and exercise

Keep refreshing your up-tempo playlists. Fast-tempo music increases overall exercise tolerance and reduces neuromuscular fatigue, according to a study reported in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2019; doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000003417).

Wayne State University researchers in Detroit evaluated the impact of fast music on neuromuscular fatigue and power output. Prior studies had shown that music could increase motivation and distract from perceiving fatigue, but those studies did not measure the electromyographic (EMG) fatigue threshold of working muscles.

Ten college-aged male subjects cycled for 15 minutes on two occasions 1 week apart—once with music, once without. Investigators collected EMG data from the rectus femoris muscle along with other biomarker information. In the music session, subjects listened in random order to multiple-genre songs with tempos of 137–160 bpm. Results showed that when subjects listened to music, they had higher maximal power output, less neuromuscular fatigue and greater exercise tolerance overall.


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Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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