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Does Music Affect Your Heart Rate During Exercise?

Listening to music while exercising does more than make the workout enjoyable. When you hear music with a beat, your natural tendency is to perform your exercise to the pace of the music. This increased workout pace raises your workout intensity and heart rate. However, music does not affect all types of exercise in the same way.

The American Council on Exercise reported on seven research studies that looked at the effects of music on workout intensity and exercise heart rate. When exercise participants perform indoor cycling to various paced music, their pedal pace increases with faster-paced music. The faster pedal speed requires an elevated heart rate to keep up with oxygen demands from the working muscles. Subjects responded with increased intensity regardless of whether they listened to current music, music they liked, music they never listened to or music they did not like.

The studies did not show similar heart rate responses when music was used by subjects who were walking or running. Subjects ran for 30 minutes and were divided into two groups. One group listened to music; the other group listened to sound without a beat. The running pace did not vary significantly between the groups. The walking groups listened to pre-recorded walking tapes that are designed to set the walking pace. Subjects' walking pace did not vary when listening to the taped music.

Add music to your water aerobics class to maintain or increase your workout pace. A study conducted at the Department of Sports Sciences at the Polytechnic Institute of Braganca, Portugal studied music and water aerobics. The results, presented in the January 2010 issue of "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research," showed an increase in heart rate with an increase in the pace of the music. Subjects began at a music pace of 90 beats per minute, and increased to pace of 195 beats per minute; they reached their maximum exercise heart rate at or near the 195-beats-per-minute pace.

Even though adding fast-paced music to your workout session increases your exercise intensity, your perception of the challenge is reduced. ACE reports that participants in cycling class exercised faster, but perceived the workout as less intense when they listened to self-selected music. Use this information in your own workouts by selecting playlists that motivate you and uplift your mood. Prepare your playlist before your workout for uninterrupted exercise and to help you perform at a steady pace.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.