MUSIC can help combat mental fatigue when exercising according to a recent study by the University of Edinburgh.
The first study of its kind suggests that listening to music when running could be a key factor in improving people’s performance when they feel mentally drained.
Researchers at the University used two tests to investigate the impact of music on the running performance of 18 exercise enthusiasts.
One of the tests researched the effects on interval running capacity on a group of nine fitness enthusiasts, alternating between high intensity running and lower intensity jogging, the other test was a time-trial 5km with nine trained runners.
Both groups took part in a 30-minute computer-based cognitive test which put them in a mentally fatigued state before the exercise.
The runners were tested with self-selected motivational music and without, to allow the researchers to examine the effect.
Researchers helped the participants to choose motivational songs with a pre-test questionnaire that asked them to rate the rhythm, melody, style, tempo, sound and beat of the music.
During the exercise, heart rate and rating of perceived exertion were measured at multiple points, the researchers considered the baseline test taken by participants which were without a mentally demanding test beforehand and without the use of the music.
The researchers found that the interval running capacity among the mentally fatigued fitness enthusiasts was greater without music compared without music, remaining the same when the participants were not mentally fatigued.
The 5km time-trial test also highlighted small improvements with self-selected music compared to no music.
The researchers say the impact of music could potentially be due to an altered perception of effort when listening to selected music.
Dr Shaun Phillips, of the University of Edinburgh’s Moray House School of Education and Sport, said: “Mental fatigue is a common occurrence for many of us, and can negatively impact many of our day-to-day activities, including exercise. Finding safe and effective ways to reduce this negative impact is therefore useful.
“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.”
The study is published in the Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, it is available to read here.