New details have emerged on how best to use music to enhance training. Tunes with a fast tempo—between 170 and 190 beats per minute—are most beneficial for endurance exercise, according to findings published in Frontiers in Psychology (2020; doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00074).

Researchers compared the effects of no music and slow-, medium- and fast-tempo music on female participants, ages 24–31 years, during bouts of endurance exercise and high-intensity exercise. Data analysis showed that fast-tempo music reduced perceived-exertion ratings in both protocols; however, the more significant effect occurred with endurance exercise, which in this study meant treadmill walking.

Why? The researchers hypothesized that endurance exercise is more sensitive to external stimuli, due to the combination of mental fatigue and perceived effort. In contrast, high-intensity training is shorter in duration and characterized by an all-out approach requiring few decision-making processes.