How Exercising Can Help Us Enjoy Music More

The results of a newly published study reveal that exercising impacts the way in which we perceive music. The study, which was released in the Psychology of Music, shows that people who listened to new music after doing a 12-minute cardio workout, liked it more, no matter to what genre it belonged.

The team who authored the study, led by Michael J. Hove, started their investigation with the results of previous research, which showed that listening to music while working out leads to improved performance. From here, the research team wanted to determine if the opposite is also possible and if exercising can impact the way in which we listen to music.

Psypost.org cited Hove, who stated that

I became interested in how exercise changes the experience of music listening because of what would happen to me after playing hockey — music would sound amazing to me after a hockey game; after I’d arrive home, I’d often sit in my car and listen to the end of the song. As a psychologist who studies music, I knew the extensive literature on how music listening can improve exercise performance, but there was almost no research looking at it in the opposite direction (how exercise affects music listening).

While exercising has long been proved to enhance mood, improve libido and increase dopamine levels (a pleasure-inducing chemical, part of our brain’s “reward system”), we now see that these results also affect the way in which we listen and perceive music.

During the study, researchers analyzed the factors that could be related to the change in the way music was perceived before and after a workout, the result being that increased arousal determined the participants in the study to enjoy music more after exercising. Therefore, the shift in perception was not actually affected by an improved post-workout mood, as we might have been tempted to think, but by improved arousal.

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