We all know that certain songs give us different emotional and physical responses, like inspiring fist pumps and doing the running man, but according to research, choosing the right music at the gym could actually help you lose weight.
Researchers from Hartpury University Centre spent three months testing different music types with British swimmer Ben Hooper during his training regime.
It was found that when Hooper listened to particular songs with strong lyrics and an upbeat rhythm, he was less fatigued, more alert and felt less tired. More than that, though, he would improve his speed by an average of 10 per cent while listening to certain tracks.
Now, you might think that classic pump-up songs like “Eye of the Tiger” would have been high on Hooper’s list of songs that fired him up, but not so. The emotional connection we have to a song can be just as important as the rhythm, so if Hooper thinks “Eye of the Tiger” is a cheesy cliché of a song, which he does, then it won’t have a positive effect on his performance.
The songs that really fired him up and made an impact on his performance were tracks by Eminem, The Script and Swedish House Mafia.
But the same songs won’t be as effective for one person as they will be for another. So while Hooper thought Eminem’s lyrics were poignant and motivating, for others they might make you want to poke your eyes out with a fork.
It’s all about the emotional response we have with a song that depends on whether it will get us fired up or calm us down.
“Our work with Ben highlights the importance of emotional impact,” says lead researcher and sports psychologist, Richard Collins.
This isn’t the first study on how music can impact our moods and our workouts. Other research carried out in 2005 at the Fairleigh Dickinson University’s School of Psychology studied overweight women who walked with and without music.
Not only were the walkers with the music more likely to stick to their exercise plan, but they actually lost more weight than those who did not listen to music, losing 4 per cent of their body fat compared to 2 per cent in their counterparts.
What was interesting about the study, too, was that the music listeners got to choose the type of music they listened to, ensuring there was an emotional connection to the songs, as well as motivation through rhythm.
The next time you head out for a run or to the gym, put on your favourite tracks and be inspired to sweat it out through music. It might just help you lose weight.