Endurance Innovation 88 – Costas Karageorghis on Music and Exercise

Endurance Innovation 88 – Costas Karageorghis on Music and Exercise

Brunel University London professor Costas Karageorghis joins us to discuss the ‘small but reliable’ effect of music as performance enhancer.

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  • 4:00 Professor Costas Karageorghis
  • 10:00 the history of research of music and physical activity
  • 14:45 a look ‘under the bonnet’ at the brain’s role in mediating athletic performance and the influence of music on this process. Playing music appears to have the following effects
    • Improvement in brain oxygenation. This may account for improved performance on time to exhaustion studies with music
    • A reduction in the frequency of firing of certain populations of neurons appears to lessen perception of fatigue
    • Improvement in firing of both the afferent and efferent nerve impulses, facilitating muscle contractions
    • An impairment in communication between areas of the brain responsible for signaling fatigue
  • 22:00 the limitations of modern imaging techniques in studying the brain while the subject is mobile
  • 25:30 the evolutionary drive for this performance-enhancing role of music
  • 27:45 auditory-motor synchronization increases aerobic efficiency by 6-7%
  • 32:15 evidence for the effect on music on performance improvement is small but reliable. The effect on emotional state and mood regulation is medium and reliable.
  • 33:30 the role of enhanced mood on motivation and consistency in training
  • 34:45 pre-task music
  • 36:15 musical recommendations for improved performance
    • Use cases include: pre-task, in-task, post-task, and synchronously or asynchronously
    • Music with relaxing or low-arousal properties for warm up, cool down, recovery. Music for high-arousal properties for high intensity work
  • 39:45 it is difficult for listeners to process music above ~75% of maximal aerobic output (~anaerobic threshold)
  • 40:00 qualities of music that determine its arousal / energizing potential
    • Tempo: ideally between 120bpm and 140bpm
    • Rhythmic accentuation
    • Lyrical affirmation
    • Beat regularity
  • 44:00 recommendations for exercise at very high intensity
    • Syntactic processing of lyrics severely impaired above 75% of maximal aerobic capacity
    • Rhythmic music with minimal lyrics ideal
    • Music does not appear to reduce perception of effort at high intensity, BUT it may colour our interpretation of fatigue, making it less uncomfortable
  • 47:45 contraindications: when using music in training is not recommended:
    • Music can capture 10-12% of our attention, making it completely unsafe when riding outdoors
    • Music above 80dB carries an increased risk of hearing damage when concurrently exercising at a high intensity due to a reduction in blood flow to the cochlea in the inner ear
    • Routinely using music in all workouts creates dependency
  • 51:45 advice on ‘earworms’
  • 54:15 music to avoid when training
  • 57:00 classical playlist recommendation
  • 59:45 the greater someone’s experience and appreciation for music, the more complex the music they may want for exercise

Follow Prof. Karageorghis on Twitter and check out his book: Applying Music in Exercise and Sport.
photo credit @ESPNMag

2 Comments
  • Tom Keane
    Posted at 13:16h, 27 April Reply

    Really enjoyed this episode. Thanks much! Now, to convince myself to not use music once in a while on my Zwift workouts… hmm..

    • Michael Liberzon
      Posted at 20:54h, 28 April Reply

      Thanks for the note Tom! I too find it hard to unplug the tunes during my indoor sessions.

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