Most people synchronize their steps to the beat of music — it’s the reason joggers have iPods, armies have drummers and Rocky has Eye Of The Tiger. However, new research has discovered that our pace is actually influenced by acoustic features more than beat or tempo. In other words, your preferred music genre could have an adverse affect on your workout — even if it’s upbeat.
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Researchers from Ghent University in Belgium measured participants’ walking while listening to 52 different types of music which all had the same basic tempo and beat. They found that people’s stride lengthened in response to some tunes and was shorter in response to others.
Perhaps not surprisingly, jazz-reggae was found to slow walkers’ down the most while pop-techno sounds were the most successful at increasing pace.
“Our study shows that music tones up or tones down your walking stride depending on musical style,” one of the paper’s chief authors explained.
“Moreover, our study shows that it is possible to identify sonic features that predict the effect. Music of the same tempo can have an activating or relaxing effect on the speed of synchronous walking. This offers perspectives for sports and physical rehabilitation.”
The paper concludes that training programs based on synchronized walking and running with music may need to factor in additional stylistic sonic features to influence aspects of movement vigor in addition to tempo measurement.
What’s your favourite music to exercise or work out to? Share your tracklist in the comments section below.