Who doesn’t like a stellar playlist? On days when mental energy is low, the benefits of music for running can help by lifting performance back to normal levels, according to research findings in the Journal of Human Sport and Exercise (2021; 17 ) .
“Mental fatigue is a common occurrence for many of us and can negatively impact many of our day-to-day activities, including exercise,” says senior study author Shaun Phillips, PhD , senior lecturer in sport and exercise physiology, Moray House School of Education and Sport, University of Edinburgh. “The findings indicate that listening to self-selected motivational music may be a useful strategy to help active people improve their endurance running capacity and performance when mentally fatigued. This positive impact of self-selected music could help people to better maintain the quality and beneficial impact of their exercise sessions.”
Researchers tracked the running performance of nine physically active males and (in a separate study) of nine recreational runners. Investigators measured performance without mental fatigue and in a mentally fatigued state, both with and without self-selected motivational music. Those who listened to music performed at a similar level when fatigued as they did when not fatigued. Researchers think that listening to self-selected music may alter perception of effort. The study was small and included only men.
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