We know that listening to music and exercise has positive effects on our wellbeing. If this is so, then putting the two together should have added benefits. You might think that is so, and you would be right. But what is the evidence that it does?
We know that 'sad music' makes us...well...feel sad. That is why it is called sad. Precisely what it is that makes us feel sad when listening to it is an interesting question. Music in minor keys tends to sound 'sadder' or more melancholy than tunes in major keys. We can bring about a major change in mood simply by switching from major to minor, and this is commonly exploited in popular and classical music. It can introduce a kind of melancholy even within an otherwise jolly and uplifting piece. When I listen to Let it Be, I find it both uplifting and with that important ingredient, a tinge of melancholy.
Certainly, the lyrics are important. When I find my self in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be. That isn't sad at all. It is uplifting. It makes us feel good. Then there is the tempo and so on. Let's face it, fast music tends to be jolly. It is the creative genius of Paul McCartney. Let it be, lifts us up. But my point isn't to analyse the music so much as to see that it feeds into something deep, culturally and spiritually, and also physiologically. This is why it is so important in our health and wellbeing. I often feel that while Dylan was the voice of a generation, the Beatles were the mood. I've got a good reason for taking the easy way out. All we are saying is 'give peace a chance'.
While exercising and listening to music both have known positive effects on our wellbeing, there has been limited research on the psychological impact of doing both activities simultaneously. A new article published in Neuroscience has reviewed these effects in 33 young adults, who participated in a moderate-intensity pedalling exercise, on three separate occasions under varied conditions: without music; listening to their favourite music, and listening to a steady control beep.
Participants were then assessed on the state of their psychological mood and cognitive ability following the activity. The results indicate that listening to music while exercising elicited a more significant self-reported enhancement of positive mood, which in turn positively impacted cognitive performance, compared to work-outs without music.
Now I hear you saying "I could have told you that!" You could, and you could also give it tune and make it a song. Hey Jude, don't make it bad, take a sad song and make it better.