Even on ‘Down’ Days, Music a Motivator for Runners

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The key to pushing through mental fatigue while running might be adding some earbuds to your workout gear.

U.K. researchers worked with 18 fitness enthusiasts to determine the impact of music on running performance. They found that running to self-selected tunes improved runners’ performance when mentally fatigued during two separate tests.

“Mental fatigue is a common occurrence for many of us, and can negatively impact many of our day-to-day activities, including exercise,” said study author Shaun Phillips, of the University of Edinburgh’s Moray House School of Education and Sport.

The first test looked at the effects on interval running capacity — alternating between high-intensity running and lower-intensity jogging — on nine physically active exercisers. The second test involved a 3-mile time trial with nine runners.

The groups completed a 30-minute computer-based cognitive test that put them in a mentally fatigued state before completing high-intensity exercise. Researchers tested the runners both with and without self-selected motivational music after assisting the participants with a pre-test questionnaire that asked them to rate the rhythm, style, melody, tempo, sound and beat of the music.

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