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Effect of music on submaximal cycling

NA Schie
A Stewart
P Becker
GG Rogers


Objective. Athletes frequently report training to music, yet there have been relatively few studies that have addressed the benefit of exercising with music.
Design. Volunteer men and women (N=30), aged between 18 and 40 years, performed an initial familiarisation session. Part of this session involved the measurement of maximal oxygen consumption. With at least a 48-hour intervening period, this was then followed by a first 20-minute submaximal cycling session, at 80% of maximal oxygen consumption. At least 48 hours later a second submaximal cycling session was performed. Subjects were randomly divided into two groups. Group A cycled without music and group B cycled with music for the first submaximal cycling session. Subjects underwent the same testing procedure for the second submaximal cycling session, but this time group A cycled to music and group B cycled without music. Subjects served as their own controls.
Setting. The study was performed in the physiology exercise laboratory, at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Main outcome measures. During the submaximal sessions heart rate, perceived exertion (Borg scale) and plasma lactate concentration were assessed. Subjects completed a post-test questionnaire once both submaximal cycling sessions were completed.
Results. There were no significant differences in physiological variables (change in plasma lactate and heart rate), nor were there any significant differences in Borg scale ratings when the subjects cycled with and without music. However, according to the post-test questionnaire 67% of subjects identified the cycling session with music to be easier
than the session without music.
Conclusion. Listening to music while performing submaximal cycling resulted in no physiological benefit. Yet, the cycling session done in conjunction with music was deemed, by the majority of the subjects, to be easier than the cycling session without music.

South African Journal of Sports Medicine Vol. 20 (1) 2008: pp. 28-31