Music and Cardio Performance

The other day I went for a run and noticed that when a particular song came on, it was like I caught my second wind and I felt an energy boost, making me question why and how this happened. Thus, my research question was born. I have decided to explore whether students believe music enhances their cardio performance at the gym.

Through my preliminary readings, I’ve found that existing research has shown that music does in fact, improve cardio performance through various studies.

Reading One: Guillen, F & Alfonso, Z.R 2015, Influence of Music on Physical Performance, Perceived Exertion and Motivation, ResearchGate

As outlined by Guillen & Alfonso (2015 p.704) “nearly all of the studies that have investigated the influence of music in sport performance have concluded that music can be beneficial in increasing the capacity of the person to minimize sensations of fatigue and effort and to focus on the task at hand in the presence of external stimuli and distraction.” The authors suggest this is due to factors such as rhythm and beat influencing our innate human predisposition to synchronize movements and the release of endorphins when listening to positive and upbeat songs that boost mood and motivation. They also describe a study undertaken by Copeland & Franks (1991), in which they examined the effects of music on heart rate, the extent of perceived exertion and time until exhaustion on 24 college students during a treadmill workout and found that music reduces physiological and psychological arousal during exercise and increases endurance performance.

Reading Two: Hoffman, S 2000, Introduction to Kinesiology 4th Edition, Human Kinetics

Hoffman describes a study undertaken by Atkinson (2004) where he examined whether background music would improve performance in a 10km cycling time trial. Results showed that when music was played, cyclists completed the time trial in an average of 1,030 seconds as opposed to an average time of 1,052 seconds when music wasn’t being played.

Reading Three: Barney, D, Gust, A & Liguori, G 2012, College Students’ usage of Personal Music Players (PMP) during Exercise, ERIC

Another interesting aspect in which I aim to briefly explore is the types of music played by students when exercising. A study of 184 university students showed that during exercise the most popular types of music listened to were hip hop (27.7%), rock (24%) and pop (20.3%). The most common reason to listen to their personal music players were “to work out harder” (22.4%), “make the exercise seem easier” (21.4%)” and “to work out longer (20.2%). In this study, it was concluded that music serves as a motivating factor, “making exercise more pleasant and seem easier.”

I’ve noticed that a lot of previous research on this topic has been done before the year 2000, setting the basis for new research and trends emanating in the 21st century. Advancements in technology and music style has allowed music to become an “effective intervention to achieve a range of desirable psychological and performance effects among athletes” (Farmer, H 2013). I seek to discover any trends and similarities or differences from my own research on university students in 2016 compared to existing studies.

To complete this research project, I intend to use both primary and secondary data. The use of secondary research is used to explain what results have already been found that support the current belief that music does enhance cardio performance through psychological (mood, mental and emotional state of mind), psychophysical (sensory responses to physiological processes and stimuli) and psychophysiological (how the mind and body interact, such as heart rate and respiration rate) effects (Farmer, H 2013). However, as pointed out by Karageorghis & Terry (1997), there are limitations in examining the psychophysical effects of music. Therefore, because I cannot physically test students on any changes in psychophysical and psychophysiological effects resulting from music due to my limited time frame, for my research I will be focusing on psychological aspects. I intend to survey the young and active pool of students from the University of Wollongong who attend the gym and perform cardiovascular exercises on machines including the treadmill, exercise bikes and elliptical machines, to collect quantitative and qualitative data to determine whether they perceive that the music they listen to whilst undertaking cardio training enhances their own performance. Whether their answer be yes or no, I will be asking them to explain why, and in the case of yes I will also be asking what type of music they perceive to be most effective.

I hope to conclude any similarities or differences in the opinions/perceptions on performance when listening to music as well as any trends in the types of music that students listen to when exercising.


Barney, D, Gust, A & Liguori, G 2012, College Students’ usage of Personal Music Players (PMP) during Exercise, ERIC, viewed 26 March 2016 <;

Farmer, H 2013, How to Benefit From Music in Sport and Exercise, Believe Perform, viewed 26 March 2016 <;

Guillen, F & Alfonso, Z.R 2015, Influence of Music on Physical Performance, Perceived Exertion and Motivation, ResearchGate

Harmon, N.M & Kravitz, L 2007, The Beat Goes On: The Effects of Music on Exercise, Idea Health and Fitness Association, viewed 26 March 2016 <;

Hoffman, S 2000, Introduction to Kinesiology 4th Edition, Human Kinetics <;

How Music Increases Your Exercise Performance 2013, ZUMBA Fitness with Aiyo, viewed 26 March 2016 <;

 Karageorghis, C.I & Terry, P.C, 1996, ‘The Psychophysical Effects of music in Sport and Exercise: A Review,’ Journal of Sport Behaviour, Vol. 20, no. 1, viewed 26 March 2016 <;

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3 Responses to Music and Cardio Performance

  1. I thoroughly enjoy your research question Danielle as I find music has such a positive influence on me when I exercise so it will be interesting to see how other individuals respond. You have a great range of existing studies to complement your research. I look forward to seeing your results and what type of music is the most motivating for individuals while exercising.

  2. melmanalo says:

    Great extensive research. You utilised your secondary research effectively and took all necessary and relevant information from it.

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