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Take a look around you the next time you lace up at the gym, hit a local running path, or toe the line at a road race. More often than not you'll see runners tuning into a personal beat. While some running purists recoil at the idea of listening to music while running, a growing subculture of runners wouldn't dream of taking a single step without their pulsating playlists. Case in point, there was uproar in 2007 when the USATF banned the use of portable music devices in its sanctioned events* and many chose to flaunt the rules; "I dare diem to find the iPod on me," said Richie Sais, 46, a police officer in Suffolk County, New York, before running the Marine Corps Marathon as he clipped his iPod Shuffle under his shirt (1). Of course, moving to the beat isn't anything new, but recent technological advances have facilitated this marriage between music and movement. As portable listening devices have become smaller, increasingly dependable, and more affordable we have seen a veritable explosion in the use of music by runners and other exercisers. Similarly, over the last 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in empirical research on the psychological and psychophysical effects of music in sport and exercise settings. Insights gleaned from this body of work will be outlined below, together with a brief overview of the mechanisms by which music might exert an effect during sport and exercise, and a series of evidence based applied recommendations. Future papers in this series will explore in greater detail the varied underlying mechanisms by which music influences running performance. Overview of Research Findings The benefits of music listening in a sport or exercise setting are numerous, and have each received strong empirical support. Prior to a run, music can enhance emotional state and motivation, allowing runners to find their optimal arousal "zone" and priming the various bodily systems for action (2). During a run, music can function as a distractor, drawing attention away from feelings of pain and fatigue (3). Music is also known to increase the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine and opioids, that may enhance feeling state, dull pain, and delay fatigue (4). Moreover, synchronizing to a beat during running, a process known as auditory-motor synchronization, helps regulate and maintain pace, and can improve running economy (5). Finally, appropriately selected post-run music can enhance recovery, facilitating the return of runners' internal systems, such as heart rate and blood pressure, to the pre-workout state (6). Optimizing Arousal and Affective Valence Music can be used as either a sedative or a stimulant to engender the optimal arousal state prior to and during a run. Research has broadly supported the assumption that stimulative music increases psychomotor arousal, while soft or sedative music decreases arousal and facilitates relaxation. Music may also influence arousal if it evokes an extra-musical association that either inspires physical activity or promotes relaxation (7). A classic example of a piece of music...
Source Citation (MLA 8 th Edition)
Hutchinson, Jasmin C. "Running with music." AMAA Journal, Spring 2017, p. 13+. Academic OneFile, Accessed 17 Jan. 2019.
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