Music and Fitness - Kinesiologist Dana with client use music to keep the program interesting

Use Music to Turn Back Time

Want to stay active for many years to come? Music might be just what the doctor ordered (research shows!) to help you stay motivated, reduce your risk of injury and pain and even make your workouts seem easier (and who doesn’t want that?)

Slow aging with music

Music is not just for aerobics class—it may also help slow the aging process.

As we age, the goal for many people is to be able to do the things they want to do, without pain, for as long as possible. Unfortunately, as balance worsens the risk of falls becomes a greater concern. Research now suggests that adding music to physical activity could help. One study found that music can improve agility and dynamic balance —which are essential for common mobility tasks such as getting on and off a bus, or going to the bathroom—in aging populations.

The study used a randomized control trial where elderly individuals participated in the music-based exercise class once a week. These participants showed improvements in balance, as well as a reduction in the rate and consequence of falls, compared to those who did not attend the class.

There are many other benefits to exercising as we age. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, these include;

  • Improved cardiovascular and respiratory function,
  • Reduction in cardiovascular disease risks,
  • Decreased anxiety and depression,
  • Improved cognitive function, and
  • Enhanced function and independent living.

With proper attention to fitness levels, many of the usual age-related declines in physical health can be prevented. If the list above wasn’t enough to get you off your seat, then it’s time to tune in to your favourite music.

The Power to Motivate

Walk into any gym or fitness class and you’ll hear music. It turns out, there’s a good reason why. Research shows that music has the power to motivate. What’s more, adding a soundtrack to your physical activities can make exercise seem easier.

Music has motivational qualities, including “rhythm response” or “musicality,” which refers to harmony and melody. Music programs should be varied throughout the day and over time with a strong rhythmical component to be most effective.

study out of Japan examined the effects of music on “rating of perceived exertion” or how hard someone perceives an activity to be. This research group found that music provides a “distraction effect” during low intensity exercise and may decrease the influence of stress caused by fatigue. Therefore, listening to music while exercising may make it feel like it’s easier to complete.

What’s interesting is that the “motivational” nature of music largely depends on the age and socio-cultural background of participants. So while a spin class blasting pop music may be perfect for young urban types, studies suggest that more mature generations prefer classical music for motivation. As a result, playing music that is aligned with the taste of participants may be more appropriate than what the instructor feels is “motivating.”

Get Active, Stay Active

Music is a tool that can help you get active and stay active, which is vital to preserving health and wellbeing for years to come.

In the words of Billy Joel: “Music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.”