There is a growing body of research showing that the right music can have a positive impact on sport and exercise performance.
Music can aid performance in sport and exercise in four different ways:
- Dissociation: This is a technique which many marathon runners and triathletes use in endurance races - a stimulus (in this case, music) draws your focus away from the activity, and thus diverts attention away from sensations such as fatigue.
- Arousal levels: Music can be used before or after an event to either stimulate (psych-up) or calm an individual.
- Movement: Music that is synchronized to the activity increases the ability to keep going when you are tired.
- Rhythm: Music which emulates patterns of physical skills can enhance both the acquisition of motor skills and create a better learning environment. Examples of this are gymnastics and swimming.
Of course, you have to select the right music. This involves choosing music that inspires you. The ideal choice will have rhythmic qualities that match the activity at hand, and a tempo that matches your heart rate.
It should also be something that makes you feel good - puts a smile on your face, a spring in your step. If there are inspirational lyrics or associations with a film or TV show that make you feel good, all the better.
Other considerations include variety in the music, to maintain interest, and volume - you need to hear the music above whatever background noise is present.