Walk into most fitness facilities and you’ll likely hear some sort of music playing. Could that music be what motivates people to move more? For a group of cardiac rehabilitation patients, that was indeed the case.

Those individuals took part in a study to determine whether self-selected music played at a certain tempo was associated with increased exercise adherence. To answer this question, researchers divided the 34 patients into a no-music control group and a tempo-paced music group. Members of the second group were allowed to choose their own playlists as long as the music they selected met the researchers’ tempo guidelines. To take things further, researchers also gave half of the music group songs that “were sonically enhanced with rhythmic auditory stimulation (RAS) to accentuate tempo-pace synchrony. . . .”

Throughout the 3-month intervention, the individuals participated in a weekly on-site exercise class and were given workouts to be completed at home at least four times per week. Each patient was fitted with an accelerometer to measure physical activity levels.

At study completion, the researchers learned that the music group put in 105 more minutes of weekly exercise than the no-music group did. The RAS group fared even better, exercising an average of 631 minutes per week. Compared with the no-music and non-RAS groups, the RAS group exercised an extra 261 minutes, respectively, each week.

“The use of tempo-pace synchronized preference-based audio-playlists was feasibly implemented into a structured exercise program and efficacious in improving adherence to physical activity beyond the evidence-based non-music usual standard of care,” the study authors concluded.

The study was published in Sports Medicine—Open (2015; 2 [7]).

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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