Music makes us enjoy exercise more, finds brain study

Hate going to the gym? A new study may have found a way to make exercise more fun: put on your favorite tune.

Researchers suggest that listening to music may increase our enjoyment of exercise.

Researchers reveal that while listening to music during a workout doesn't increase focus on the task at hand, it does make exercise much more enjoyable.

Study co-author Marcelo Bigliassi, from Brunel University London in the United Kingdom, and his colleagues came to their findings by using electroencephalography (EEG) technology to monitor the brain's response to music while participants engaged in physical activity.

The researchers recently reported their resultsin the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise.

It's no secret that music has the ability to elicit emotional responses; research backs up this fact. A song can make us feel happy, sad, angry, empowered, or motivated. The latter is one reason why many of us reach for the headphones when we go for a run.

But how exactly does the brain respond to music when we exercise? It was this that Bigliassi and colleagues set out to answer.

"The brain mechanisms that underlie the psychological effects of auditory stimuli during physical activity are hitherto under-researched; particularly so in ecologically valid settings," the study authors note.

Why is Exercise Important?

Helps Prevent Diseases

Our bodies were meant to move -- they actually crave exercise. Regular exercise is necessary for physical fitness and good health. It reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and other diseases. It can improve your appearance and delay the aging process.

Improves Stamina

When you exercise, your body uses energy to keep going. Aerobic exercise involves continuous and rhythmic physical motion, such as walking and bicycling. It improves your stamina by training your body to become more efficient and use less energy for the same amount of work. As your conditioning level improves, your heart rate and breathing rate return to resting levels much sooner from strenuous activity.

Strengthens and Tones

Exercising with weights and other forms of resistance training develops your muscles, bones and ligaments for increased strength and endurance. Your posture can be improved, and your muscles become more firm and toned. You not only feel better, but you look better, too!

Enhances Flexibility

Stretching exercises are also important for good posture. They keep your body limber so that you can bend, reach and twist. Improving your flexibility through exercise reduces the chance of injury and improves balance and coordination. If you have stiff, tense areas, such as the upper back or neck, performing specific stretches can help "loosen" those muscles, helping you feel more relaxed.