There are not a lot of studies to be found on the effect of
exercising to music. I suspect this is so because both music and
exercising, whether done alone, or together produce neurotransmitters
in the brain. Some studies have shown that there is an additional
benefit to exercising to music, which other studies contradict. In any
case, I have gathered many articles that discuss the benefits of
exercising to music, exercising, and simply listening to music.
?Pythagoras of Samos, a very wise teacher of ancient Greece, knew how
to work with sound. In his mystery schools in Delphi and Crotona, he
taught his students how certain musical chords and melodies could
produce responses within the human organism.
He demonstrated that the right sequence of sounds, played musically on
an instrument, can change behavior patterns and accelerate the healing
?Ancient Greek story
?A common pattern of dysfunction emerges in conditions of chronic or
severe stress, including diminished T-cell proliferation to mitogens,
diminished natural killer (NK) cell activity, diminished cell-mediated
immune measures, and reactivation of latent viruses such as
Epstein-Barr virus. A recent report has shown that diminished
cell-mediated immunity in medical students during examination stress
takes the form of shifted cytokine balance between TH1 (interleukin
[IL] 2 and interferongamma [IFN-?]) and TH2 (IL-4 and IL-10) toward a
humoral and away from a cell-mediated immune response.17 This TH1-TH2
cytokine shift away from cell-mediated responses and toward humoral
responses has been noted in ageassociated immunosenescence18 in
patients showing a degenerating condition with cancer, even cancers
normally thought of as nonimmunogenic,19 and has been suggested to
occur in individuals with human immunodeficiency virus that is rapidly
deteriorating to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.20
Positive interventions that maintain robust cell-mediated responses,
reduce perceived stress, and diminish heightened activation of the
hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the sympathetic nervous system
may therefore be beneficial to health maintenance and wellness, even
when tumors and infectious agents are involved. These positive
interventions are sometimes described as ?eustress? paradigms,21 and
include exercise,22 mirthful laughter,21 and nature?s imagery combined
with music and positive affirmations.
23 However, not all hormonal responses in these paradigms are the
same, either in magnitude or direction, nor is cortisol necessarily
the sole mediator or even an important mediator of the stress-related
immunologic alterations, especially diminished NK cell activity and
diminished cell-mediated immune responses.24 Based on an established
knowledge base of predictable neuroendocrine and neuroimmune responses
described above, a protocol was established (after preliminary testing
of several group-drumming approaches) to measure the ability of a
single group-drumming session to modulate NK cell activity,
lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) cell activity, plasma levels of IL-2
and IFN-?, and plasma levels of cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone
(DHEA), and DHEA-to-cortisol ratios, which the researchers predicted
would change in directions opposite to those expected with the classic
?Montreal scientists are not in full agreement about the nature of
the quest. Is there a single music centre in the brain? Groundbreaking
brain imaging studies suggest that several distinct brain areas are
involved in the processing and appreciation of music. However, studies
on musically impaired individuals also suggest that there may be some
distinct specialized networks in the brain devoted specifically to
?One such study, performed by scientists at McGill University, showed
for the first time that music activates the same reward or pleasure
centres in the brain that respond to the pleasures associated with
eating and sex.
The study is significant because it suggests music is as important to
us as biologically relevant survival stimuli. "Although we can
theoretically live and procreate without the ability to appreciate
music, it seems important as far as our happiness and well-being is
concerned," said Anne Blood, a co-author of the study, who is now at
the Massachusetts General Hospital.
The study found that only music beautiful enough to consistently
elicit the highly euphoric experience of chills or
"shivers-down-the-spine" activated reward centres that are popularly
recognized as pleasure centres of the brain.?
?Cognitive Boost found from Exercising with Music
Do you exercise while listening to music? A new study has found that
working out to music may give you a cognitive boost. Listening to
music while exercising helped cardiac rehabilitation patients in this
study increase scores on a verbal fluency test.
The Science Daily article summarizing the study quotes Charles Emery,
the study's lead author as stating: "This is the first study to look
at the combined effects of music and short-term exercise on mental
One study concluded: ?Relaxation music did not significantly change
the energy cost of walking, but it did produce a significantly lower
cardiac stress. This agrees with previous work and indicates that
music can influence exercise mood (Copeland & Franks, 1991). If the
objective is to keep cardiac stress low while maintaining an exercise
effect, as in a cardiac rehabilitation or stress management setting,
relaxation music would be appropriate ergogenic aid. It is possible
longer durations of exercise might manifest greater effects for the
relaxation music condition.?
?Different types of music have been found to induce different
neuroendocrine changes. The aim of the present experiment was to
investigate the possible combination of emotional and endocrine
changes in response to techno-music and to define personality
variables as predictors of respective changes. Sixteen
psychosomatically healthy subjects (18- to 19-year-olds, eight males
and eight females) were exposed, in random order, to techno-music or
to classical music (30 min each). Plasma norepinephrine (NE),
epinephrine (EPI), growth hormone (GH), prolactin (PRL),
adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) cortisol (CORT), beta-endorphin
(beta-EP) concentrations and changes of emotional state were measured
in basal conditions and after the experimental trials with two
different types of music. Techno-music was associated with a
significant increase in heart rate, systolic blood pressure and
significant changes in self-rated emotional states. A significant
increase was observed in beta-EP, ACTH, NE, GH and CORT after
listening to techno-music.?
?Several clinical reports suggest that dance therapy helps people
accomplish the following:
? develop positive body image
? improve self-concept and self-esteem
? reduce stress, anxiety, and depression
? decrease isolation, chronic pain, and body tension
? increase communication skills
? encourage a sense of well-being
For some cancer patients, dance therapy is an effective form of
exercise. However, dance therapy has not been studied enough to know
if there are any unique health benefits to cancer patients, or to
confirm the effects on prevention and/or recovery of illness.
How does dance therapy work?
The physical benefits of dance therapy as exercise are well
documented. Experts have shown that physical activity is known to
increase special neurotransmitter substances in the brain
(endorphins), which create a state of well-being. And total body
movement such as dance enhances the functions of other body systems,
such as circulatory, respiratory, skeletal, and muscular systems.
Dance therapy can help you stay physically fit and enjoy the pleasure
of creating rhythmic motions with your body.
Are there any possible problems or complications associated with dance therapy?
There are no known negative side effects of dance therapy. However,
dance is a form of exercise. Always consult your physician before
beginning any exercise program, especially if you have a chronic
condition such as arthritis. Your physician can evaluate whether the
physical movements of dance therapy might be harmful to your
cardiovascular system, joints, or muscles.
What is music therapy?
Music therapy uses music to promote healing and enhance quality of
life. It is a complementary therapy that is used along with other
cancer treatments to help patients cope mentally and physically with
their diagnosis. Music therapy may involve listening to music,
creating music, singing, and discussing music, in addition to guided
imagery with music.
Can music therapy help people with cancer?
Scientific studies have shown the positive value of music therapy on
the body, mind, and spirit of children and adults. Researchers have
found that music therapy used along with anti-emetic drugs (drugs that
relieve nausea and vomiting) for patients receiving high-dose
chemotherapy can be effective in easing the physical symptoms of
nausea and vomiting. When used in combination with pain-relieving
drugs, music has been found to decrease the overall intensity of the
patient's experience of pain and can sometimes result in a reduced
dependence on pain medication.
Music can also help accomplish the following:
? relieve stress, apprehension, and fear
? improve mood
? lower heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate
? relieve depression
? relieve sleeplessness
? relieve muscle tension and provide relaxation
Music therapists believe that:
? Rhythm is beneficial. Our muscles, including the heart muscle,
synchronize to the beat of music. For example, some classical music
approximates the rhythm of the resting heart (70 beats per minute).
This music can slow a heart that is beating too fast.
? Self-expression in music therapy can reveal subconscious thoughts
and feelings and be therapeutic in the same way psychotherapy has
shown to be therapeutic.
? The creative process of creating art whether it is through music,
painting, sculpture, or dance can be beneficial.?
"Evidence suggests that exercise improves the cognitive performance
of people with coronary artery disease," Emery said. "And listening to
music is thought to enhance brain power. We wanted to put the two
?Participants reported feeling better emotionally and mentally after
working out regardless of whether or not they listened to music. But
the improvement in verbal fluency test performance after listening to
music was more than double that of the non-music condition.
"Exercise seems to cause positive changes in the nervous system, and
these changes may have a direct effect on cognitive ability," Emery
said. "Listening to music may influence cognitive function through
different pathways in the brain. The combination of music and exercise
may stimulate and increase cognitive arousal while helping to organize
As can happen in medical studies, there can be contradicting studies:
?The effects of music on respiration and cardiac activity have been of
particular focus to researchers due to the value of these
physiological parameters to health and disease prevention. The ability
to control cardiac activity may be desirable in the treatment of
various heart conditions. However, much of the early research on the
physiological response to music has been rejected by researchers
because of poor research designs, inadequate procedures, and limits of
the equipment (Dainow, 1977) . In a well-designed study, Ellis and
Brighouse (1952) noted that respiration rate increased significantly
with the onset of jazz music and tends to return to pre-music levels
with the cessation of music. Heart rate was only moderately effected
by the introduction of the music. The average heart rate is between
72-80 beats per minute while music tempos may range from 70 to 170
beats per minute. A review of studies indicates that heart rate tends
to only moderately follow the music; increasing in response to fast
music and decreasing in response to slow music (Dainow, 1977) .?
?Thus, music also has the capability to evoke pleasant
associations, possibly masking unpleasant stimuli (such as heavy
breathing associated with exertion) or serve as a distraction to
internal feelings associated with discomfort (Boutcher & Trenske,
1990) . It should be noted that the exact neurological effects of
music on pain or discomfort are not understood. However it has been
clearly demonstrated that music can reduce factors contributing to
pain and discomfort such as stress, tension, and anxiety (Maslar,
?Based on ten different studies conducted by Cromartie and Matesic
(2002), a consensus was formed that ?exercise endurance and
performance perception were positively influenced by music versus
non-music conditions.? Cromartie and Matesic studied the effects of
music on athletic performance and discovered that music seems to
provide an athlete with an appropriate focus of attention that
relieves boredom and decreases the sense of effort. Since our
attention system has a limited capacity, the music essentially works
by distracting the participant from feelings of pain or fatigue. At a
given exercise intensity, participants reported a reduced sense of
effort (measured as a rate of perceived exertion) when exercising with
music. The researchers suggested that listening to music during
exercise produces an altered state of consciousness that allows
immersion in the activity and causes a sense of effortlessness to
ensue that can be associated with a distorted sense of time. This
distorted sense of time causes the overall perception of the workout
to be more favorable.
Cromartie and Matesic (2002) also found that music enhances work
output by synchronizing movement with music to provide an effective
training pace. Some music appeared to be able to trigger positive
emotions, creating a pleasant working environment. Despite differing
modes of exercise, performance with music appeared to be improved by
approximately five to seven percent. Based on the extensive research
supporting the positive effects of music on exercise, we decided to
further explore the above mentioned theory of participant perception
with regard to music and exercise. We designed an experiment to
determine if we could induce the expectancy that music would either
enhance or detract from a participants? work-out.
We manipulated the expectations of our participants with regard to
music and exercise through both verbal and written instructions.
Consistent with previous researchers? hypotheses, it was expected that
participants who were told that music would enhance their performance
would perform better than participants who were told that music would
detract from their performance. The control group would serve merely
as a means to compare the amount of laps and perception of music to
the experimental groups.?
?Does music exposure during chemotherapy improve quality of life in
early breast cancer patients? A pilot study.
Med Sci Monit. 2006 Apr 25;12(5):CR200-205.
Background: Adjuvant chemotherapy is associated with poor quality of
life (qol) in breast cancer patients. We tested the effect of
listening to music during chemotherapy on quality of life in these
patients. Material/Methods: We tested in a prospective cohort the
changes in qol scores as assessed by European Organization for
Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire (EORTC
QLQ-C30), and the influence of listening to non-preferred music at the
chemotherapy unit on these parameters in a mixed linear model by
repeated measures analysis of variance (RMANOVA). Results: For the
whole cohort, musical intervention was not associated with a change in
any dimension of quality of life. However, the music effect
significantly interacted with patient age; patients >45 years old had
improved insomnia and appetite loss scores after musical intervention
(F=6.76, P=0.019 and F=11.22, P=0.004, respectively). Conclusions: Our
results show that brief, non-preferred music exposure at the time of
chemotherapy administration does not improve quality of life in
patients with early breast cancer. Nonetheless, there is still a
possibility that a subgroup will benefit from this approach as
suggested by the interaction of the music effect with patient age.
[Abstract/Link to Full Text]?
?Effect of Music on Exercise Adherence and Treatment Outcomes in a
Study of Overweight to Moderately Obese Women (783-P; 9:45 a.m. PT)
Could an IPod aid in weight loss? Results of a new pilot study suggest
that listening to music while exercising helps overweight people stick
with exercise and get better results from their weight loss program.
According to Christopher A. Capuano, Ph.D., director of the school of
psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ, one of
the biggest barriers to long-term weight control is lack of adherence
to an exercise regimen. However, few controlled studies have examined
the logical assumption that better exercise and treatment adherence
will lead to better weight loss outcomes.
"Exercising can be difficult for someone who is obese. Walking to
music seemed to really motivate the women in our study to get out
there and stick with the commitment they made," noted Dr. Capuano.
The researchers evaluated the effects of music on exercise adherence
in 41 women who were overweight to moderately obese (BMIs ranged from
26.1 to 41.7) as part of a 24-week weight loss program that included
dieting, aerobic exercise and participation in weekly group meetings.
The women were expected to walk alone for a minimum of two days per
week, plus participate in one group walk. The group walks got
progressively more difficult; in order to keep up, they needed to walk
longer distances in a shorter amount of time.?
"?Music can increase endorphin levels. Endorphins, the brain?s own
'opiates,' ?The healing chemicals created by the joy and emotional
richness in music (movie soundtracks, religious music, marching bands,
and drumming ensembles) enable the body to create its own anesthetic
and enhance the immune function? The Journal of the American Medical
Association reported in 1996 ??Music stimulation increases endorphin
release and this decreases the need for medication. It also provides a
distraction from pain and relieves anxiety,???
?COLUMBUS, Ohio ? Researchers believe that listening to music
helped people with severe respiratory disease increase their fitness
levels, based on the results of a new study.
Subjects with serious lung disease who listened to music while walking
covered an average of 19 total miles over the course of an eight-week
exercise intervention study. In comparison, the group that didn?t
listen to music only walked an average of 15 total miles ? 21 percent
less - by the end of the study.?
??Music could help distract people with serious lung disease from
certain negative physical symptoms,? Bauldoff said. ?The positive
effects of increased exercise spilled over into other areas of the
participants? lives ?- they were better able to handle routine daily
activities and, in turn, retain a good degree of independence.?
?I just received my December issue of Dr. Andrew Weil's "Self
Healing" newsletter, with the cover story being about how exercise
benefits your mood. The article cites a Duke University study of 156
middle-aged and older people who experienced depression. It compared
the effect of treatment with exercise alone versus using
The long and the short of this study is that the exercise was as
effective as medication. Moreover, in a follow-up study six months
later, depression relapsed in 38 percent of the medication-only group,
but in only 8 percent of the exercise group!
This piqued my interest since one creativity trick that I use in
writing this blog is to "meditate" at my health club on the
stair-climber with a small pencil and slip of note paper in my pocket.
When ideas fly into my mind, I quickly write them down. I'm not
depressed, but perhaps a reason I feel creative and happy in the first
place has to do with my exercise routine.?
?One way to explore this interaction is by measuring the affects of
stress. Some common measurements include cortisol (stress hormone)
levels, immune function, wound healing, and cardiovascular reactivity,
meaning how quickly and how high someone?s blood pressure and heart
rate respond to stress. Many studies have shown how stress negatively
impacts all of the above and more. Chronic caregivers have
significantly decreased immune function, and widows can take up to a
year to restore immunity after the death of a spouse. ?
?Neurotransmitters send signals throughout the nervous system. We
used to think these chemicals, such as dopamine and serotonin, resided
in the brain at the end of nerve cells. We now know that they can be
found in many other organs--the heart, the gut, the immune system--and
that they can diffuse out into the tissues and the blood. This is why
so much of what happens to us shows up in many different parts of the
body; why depression, associated with low serotonin levels in the
brain, also causes decreased immune function and decreased bowel
function, and why anti-depressants can have gastrointestinal side
effects. Why do we have a ?gut feeling? about something? Because the
neurotransmitters in our gut can be a mirror reflection of what?s
going on in our head.
Every day more neurotransmitters, cytokines, lymphokines, peptides
and hormones and their interrelationships are being discovered, as
well as how these factors are affected by events in our lives, and how
we choose to respond to those events.?
?Exercise decreases cardiovascular reactivity. Massage and listening
to music decrease cortisol levels. In general, stress, bereavement,
chronic care giving, loneliness, anger, trauma and difficult marital
relationships negatively impact, in a measurable way, how our bodies
function. However, research has verified we can positively affect our
health with love, friendship, laughter, spirituality, a positive
outlook, meditation, yoga, exercise, massage, music, the creative
arts, journaling, being in nature, and having pets.?
?Rhythmic exercises such as walking, running, rowing and swimming
increase alpha-wave activity in the brain. The electrical activity of
the brain can be monitored in the laboratory using an instrument
called an electroencephalogram (EEG). Alpha waves are associated with
a calm mental state, such as that produced by meditation or chanting.
The rhythmic breathing that occurs during some forms of exercise also
contributes to an increase in alpha-wave activity. Rhythmic activity
performed to music may be stress-relieving in other ways as well.
Physical response to stress.
Some research suggests that regular exercise of moderate intensity may
provide a sort of dress rehearsal for stress. Several studies have
found that people who exercise regularly have less of a physical
response to laboratory stressors, such as difficult mental arithmetic
tests. Other studies have found that physically fit subjects recover
more quickly than sedentary peers from stressors such as cold exposure
or emotional frustration.2
Why? Your response to a session of moderately vigorous exercise
resembles your response to stress -- elevated metabolic rate, cardiac
output, energy substrate levels, muscle tension, stress hormones, etc.
Regular exercise may "train" the body to cope with and recover more
quickly from emotional stress, as well as exercise stress.?
?What's more, even its proponents tend to think that music boosts
brain power simply because it makes listeners feel better - relaxed
and stimulated at the same time - and that a comparable stimulus might
do just as well. In fact, one study found that listening to a story
gave a similar performance boost.
There is, however, one way in which music really does make you
smarter, though unfortunately it requires a bit more effort than just
selecting something mellow on your iPod. Music lessons are the key.
Six-year-old children who were given music lessons, as opposed to
drama lessons or no extra instruction, got a 2 to 3-point boost in IQ
scores compared with the others. Similarly, Rauscher found that after
two years of music lessons, pre-school children scored better on
spatial reasoning tests than those who took computer lessons.?
?Research now suggests that along with all of the other health
benefits exercise confers, it can also give a big boost to your sex
life. The reason has less to do with getting stronger than with the
release of endorphins in the brain (as a result of physical exertion)
that influence how we feel.
These are the same neurochemicals responsible for a "runner's high" or
the sense of exhilaration that comes from skiing down a mountain or
after an intense aerobics class. It turns out these brain chemicals
may also be linked to the release of hormones that power the sex
drive. Research has shown that women who exercise regularly tend to
have more active sex lives, are more easily aroused, and reach orgasm
more quickly than those who don't work out.
Less vigorous Eastern forms of exercise take another approach. Instead
of stimulating brain chemicals to rev up the sex drive, yoga and
tantra provide postures designed to help resolve specific sexual
problems. Some are said to work by stimulating blood flow to the
genital area while others are directed toward maximizing sexual
performance and satisfaction. While there's no scientific proof that
these ancient exercises add up to effective aphrodisiacs,
practitioners seem pleased with the results.?
?As you look for ways to relax and experience joy in life, don?t
overlook what you can do for yourself through your own endorphins.
When you exercise for a sustained period of time, your body responds
to this stress with the release of endorphins. You may not be a
runner, but you can still experience a feeling of well-being through
exercise. Walking or exercising to music and swimming are also
excellent ways to trigger endorphin production. Your objective is not
to elicit pain but rather put just the right amount of stress on your
body. You?re looking for well-being not stiff, sore muscles and pain.
One of the main ways to experience the euphoria of endorphin release
is through sexual stimulation and activity. In addition, sexual
arousal promotes the production of HGH (Human Growth Hormone).?
?Most people never heard of serotonin management, or even
considered it at all except for medications. Serotonin management
amounts to paying attention to the little things that make you feel
good and systematically including them in your daily routine. We know,
instinctively, that pampering ourselves is a door to a sense of well
being, but we may not take time to schedule pleasant surroundings,
favorite music or food, or even quality time with loved ones into our
Just getting out of bed and into a warm shower elevates serotonin
levels, making it easier to get into a positive, constructive frame of
mind. And generally speaking, depression if it is mild enough can
sometimes be managed without prescribed medications. Aerobic exercise,
watching your carbohydrate & alcohol consumption, getting up early and
moving, even if you don't feel like it, forcing structure on your
life, using meditation and imagery (if can concentrate, which depends
on how depressed you are), and seeking a support group or
psychotherapy, have all proved helpful.?
?Dopamine is responsible for motivation, interest, and drive. It is
associated with positive stress states such as being in love,
exercising, listening to music, and sex . When we don?t have enough of
it we don?t feel alive, we have difficulty initiating or completing
tasks, poor concentration, no energy, and lack of motivation. Dopamine
also is involved in muscle control and function. Low Dopamine levels
can drive us to use drugs (self medicate), alcohol, smoke cigarettes,
gamble, and/or overeat. High dopamine has been observed in patients
with poor GI function, autism, mood swings, psychosis, and children
with attention disorders.?
?In addition, we believe that "winging out" and disintegrating are
a result of changes in the usual balance in the relative relationships
of these neurotransmitters. Integration then, may also be a result of
manipulating the same chemicals in such a way as to create a more
balanced neurochemistry. We believe that medication, food, music and
exercise influence the relative activity of these neurotransmitter
systems, and that by rational manipulation of these effectors we can
help people towards balance and integration.?
?Next, act energized; sustain good posture and perform some shadow
boxing or household chores with vigor before exercise. Think of
positive words or statements, like ?energy?, ?power?, ?I can do it?,
or ?no guts, no glory?. Energized imagery can help to improve positive
feelings, such as visualizing well-developed muscles, or an explosion
of fireworks. Some trainees prefer to listen to upbeat rock music
prior to exercise. Energetic music with 60 beats per minute is ideal
during exercise since the music selections act as a metronome?
This article is non-copy-able, but details a study and the results of
music and exercise on heart rate.
This is an interesting read:
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