The randomized study assessed 127 patients who came in for a routine electrocardiogram (ECG) treadmill stress test. On average, they were 53 years old and had similar medical histories, including diabetes and hypertension. The men and women were randomly assigned to listen to either up-tempo, Latin-inspired music or no music at all during their stress tests.
During the tests, researchers increased treadmill speed and incline every three minutes, starting at 1.7 mph at a 10 percent grade and building up to 3.4 mph at a 14 percent grade, the researchers explained in a statement by The American College of Cardiology.
In the end, the group that listened to music lasted almost a full minute longer (505.8 seconds) than the control group (455.2 seconds) — an absolute difference of about 50.6 seconds, the researchers reported. The music group also worked out harder, according to the analysis.
“Our findings reinforce the idea that upbeat music has a synergistic effect in terms of making you want to exercise longer and stick with a daily exercise routine,” Shami said. What Shami didn't mention: that it can also make you bust out some pretty sweet dance moves.
That music can help amp up your workout isn’t really a new finding, says Dr. Martin Matsumura, MD, chief of cardiology at Geisinger Health System in Wilkes, Barre, Pennsylvania. “A lot of studies with variable data show that listening to music increases exercise tolerance and the ability to exercise longer,” he told Men’s Health.
Researchers don’t know why this is the case. “The mechanism of that still is not clear. Some people think it’s simply a diversion that allows you to take your mind away from pain,” says Matsumura, who was not involved with the research.
He noted that the study included Hispanic participants and that the music was Latin-inspired music, which might suggest that familiar music may also lead to more positive results.
“If you’re running to a beat you like, it may allow your body to fall into a rhythm so your results are better,” he says.
Matsumura isn't sure if the study's findings can be applied to people who do long, intensive exercise — like, say, someone trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon. “These were pretty low-level exercises. It’s not the high level exercise of someone who is trying to PR in a 5k,” he says.
That said, anything that can motivate a person to work out more often is a good thing — so if listening to your jams helps keep you moving, keep doing it. Matsumura offers one last safety tip: if you’re listening to music while running or biking on roads with cars and trucks, remember to keep an ear out or the volume low enough to hear traffic noises.
Oh, and also? Try not to rock out too hard.