Page last updated at 14:01 GMT, Wednesday, 1 October 2008 15:01 UK

Music 'boosts exercise endurance'

Man listening to music
The way to keep working up a sweat?

A study has confirmed what many gym users already knew - listening to music can boost your capacity for exercise.

Dr Costas Karageorghis, from Brunel University, has worked out a formula to find the "perfect" workout track.

He tested 30 volunteers on a variety of specially-selected rock and pop music, and found their endurance rose by an average of 15%.

He said this could help people "prescribed" exercise for obesity or heart problems.

Some gyms tend to just put on a radio station, which can be a bad idea
Dr Costas Karageorghis
Brunel University

Few gyms in the country come without a pounding soundtrack, but Dr Karageorghis, who has been researching the link between music and exercise for two decades, said that many may be allowing the "wrong" music to reach the ears of their customers.

His formula takes the rhythm, tempo and musicality of popular music, and mixes it with a measure of its "cultural impact" to rate its suitability.

The best songs for moderate to intense exercise tend to have between 120 and 140 beats a minutes, he said.

Good recent examples include "I Like the Way You Move" by Bodyrockers, and "Mercy", by Duffy, while older exercisers could raid the back catalogues of record companies for "The Heat is On" by Glenn Frey, "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen, or "Dancing Queen" by Abba.

Some of his volunteers found their endurance rising by far more than 15%, and Dr Karageorghis described this as "very significant".

Feeling better

In addition, moderate exercisers said that the addition of music reduced their perception of hard work - although for those exercising at a higher level, this was not the case, although music tended to boost the enjoyment of exercise for everyone.

Dr Karageorghis has advised gyms and health clubs in the past, and said that some music choices he found were ill-advised.

"There are a lot of grungy or punky tracks, or slow rock tracks which are really inappropriate.

"Some gyms tend to just put on a radio station, which can be a bad idea, as radio stations will vary their tracks to create a different mood."

He said that his recommendations could be particularly valuable for people who are told to take part in moderate exercise for health reasons.

"The choice of music would have to be modified for older patients, but we have found they tend to respond even better when appropriate music is played," he said.

His theories will be put to the test on a grand scale this weekend as he selects the musical accompaniment for "Run to the Beat", a half-marathon in London.

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05 Sep 08 |  Scotland

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