Listening to music while you run. Research shows there is something to it.

J Sci Med Sport. 2011 Jul 29. [Epub ahead of print]

Effects of synchronous music on treadmill running among elite triathletes.

Terry PC, Karageorghis CI, Saha AM, D'Auria S.


Department of Psychology, University of Southern Queensland, Australia; Centre of Excellence for Applied Sport Science Research, Queensland Academy of Sport, Australia.


Music can provide ergogenic, psychological and psychophysical benefits during physical activity, especially when movements are performed synchronously with music. The present study developed the train of research on synchronous music and extended it to elite athletes using a repeated-measures laboratory experiment. Elite triathletes (n=11) ran in time to self-selected motivational music, a neutral equivalent and a no-music control during submaximal and exhaustive treadmill running. Measured variables were time-to-exhaustion, mood responses, feeling states, RPE, blood lactate concentration, oxygen consumption and running economy. Time-to-exhaustion was 18.1% and 19.7% longer, respectively, when running in time to motivational and neutral music, compared to no music. Mood responses and feeling states were more positive with motivational music compared to either neutral music or no music. RPE was the lowest for neutral music and highest for the no-music control. Blood lactate concentrations were lowest for motivational music. Oxygen consumption was lower with music by 1.0-2.7%. Both music conditions were associated with better running economy than the no-music control. Although neutral music did not produce the same level of psychological benefits as motivational music, it proved equally beneficial in terms of time-to-exhaustion and oxygen consumption. In functional terms, the motivational qualities of music may be less important than the prominence of its beat and the degree to which participants are able to synchronise their movements to its tempo. Music provided ergogenic, psychological and physiological benefits in a laboratory study and its judicious use during triathlon training should be considered.