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Discuss. The head research guy has a pretty impressive background, too. A little music with exercise boosts brain power, study suggests COLUMBUS, Ohio It's no secret that exercise improves mood, but new research suggests that working out to music may give exercisers a cognitive boost. Listening to music while exercising helped to increase scores on a verbal fluency test among cardiac rehabilitation patients. "This is the first study to look at the combined effects of music and short-term exercise on mental performance," said Charles Emery, the study's lead author and a professor of psychology at Ohio State University. "Evidence suggests that exercise improves the cognitive performance of people with coronary artery disease," Emery said. "And listening to music is thought to enhance brain power. We wanted to put the two results together." Those results appear in a recent issue of the journal Heart & Lung. The study included 33 men and women in the final weeks of a cardiac rehabilitation program. Most participants had undergone bypass surgery, angioplasty or cardiac catheterization. Coronary artery disease may compromise cognitive ability, Emery said; that's why he and his colleagues chose cardiac rehabilitation patients for this study. The researchers asked participants to complete a verbal fluency test before and after two separate sessions of exercising on a treadmill. The workouts were scheduled a week apart and lasted about 30 minutes. Participants listened to classical music Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" during one of the sessions. "We used 'The Four Seasons' because of its moderate tempo and positive effects on medical patients in previous research," Emery said. "But given the range of music preferences among patients, it's especially important to evaluate the influence of other types of music on cognitive outcomes." As a way to measure anxiety and depression, participants completed a 30-item checklist before and after exercise. The list included adjectives to describe the patient's current mood. The researchers also tested each person's verbal fluency before and after each exercise session by asking participants to generate lists of words in specific categories. "This kind of task challenges the part of the brain that handles planning and abstract thought as well as a person's capacity for organized verbal processing," Emery said. Participants reported feeling better emotionally and mentally after working out regardless of whether or not they listened to music. But the improvement in verbal fluency test performance after listening to music was more than double that of the non-music condition. "Exercise seems to cause positive changes in the nervous system, and these changes may have a direct effect on cognitive ability," Emery said. "Listening to music may influence cognitive function through different pathways in the brain. The combination of music and exercise may stimulate and increase cognitive arousal while helping to organize cognitive output." Emery conducted the study with Evana Hsiao and Scott Hill, both with Ohio State, and David Frid of Pfizer, Inc. A grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute helped fund this research.

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"Exercise seems to cause positive changes in the nervous system, and these changes may have a direct effect on cognitive ability," Emery said.
I definitely agree with this statement. When I am exercising I have noticed a big improvement in my reflexes.
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That is interesting. Just my own thoughts here, but the times I treadmill it at the fitness center and use headphones to watch the tube there or catch the radio, I do find my mind stays "tuned in". It's not as easy to let my mind wander and de-stress or get the chance to esacpe as it were. So that makes sense to me that music listeners would have better cognitive functioning post-exercise than non-listeners. They've been spending the time being "focused" you might say. I know for me, it takes awhile to shift gears and get back to reality after my "daily escape".
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i'm not sold on the positive effect on cognitive ability; i do know that the "running" itself seems easier when i have music in my ears. maybe it's a distraction, i'm not sure. but my training runs (only) almost always have music....however, on my 13 miler this week i was most happy to turn that c**p off at about mile 11 cuz it was driving me nuts. the silence was really welcomed. maybe, as the run became more difficult, i needed to have SERENITY now. at least, that's what it felt like.

SILENCE!!!! thank you, that's better.
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i guess i'm a traditionalist...but i refuse to run with music...

i'd rather listen to the sounds around me and get lost in my own thoughts...

(that and i'd prefer to listen for cars so i don't end up splattered across the grille of some suv...) :?

---
megawill
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i guess i'm a traditionalist...but i refuse to run with music... i'd rather listen to the sounds around me and get lost in my own thoughts... (that and i'd prefer to listen for cars so i don't end up splattered across the grille of some suv...) :? --- megawill
Good point. However, the study was probably conducted indoors using treadmills. And the subjects were likely closely monitored as they were cardiac patients. And the study did not address any inefficiencies in running form, reduction in mental focus, or safety issues caused by listening to music, which most of us translate to "wearing headphones". Any enhanced cognitive ability would be worthless if you were hit by a car or assaulted while running outside. And more serious racers would not have developed the mental sharpness needed for race day when they would not be allowed to listen to music during competition. But I have to agree that the researchers are correct in indicating that listening to music while running on a treadmill has some benefits. I would add that preventing a runner from going insane on TM runs longer than 15 minutes is one of them. And for runners that run for more than an hour at a time, I would think that music or TV may keep them from going into a coma.... so the enhanced cogntive ability is a real bonus! On a related note, Runner's World printed a study that indicated that eating or smelling peppermint makes you faster. They really did. :D
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my 13 mile run this week was on a treadmill :squint:
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interesting thoughts and premises. I still like the time alone running without noise. I have a job and home life that provide a lot of external demands and require me to be on top of my game all of the time. I just like the time running gives me.
Plus I almost always carry a water bottle and really do not want to carry something else.
Just personal preference for me really.
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When I ran, on my training runs I usually had my MP3 player with me. Never race with headphones.

I never where headphones when riding my bike outside.

When I am riding on the trainer in my basement, I have the TV on.
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Music has always been a huge part of my life, no matter what I am doing, and running is no exception. I don't always run with music, but sometimes it helps--for me it depends on my mood when I go out. If I'm in a thoughtful mood, I leave the MP3 player behind so I can sort my thoughts, focus, work on a problem, but if I just want to escape and not have to think, I take it with me. I also generally run on closed trails so cars are not an issue, and I do tend to look around a lot so I'm in some touch with my surroundings. Never raced with headphones because I got the MP3 after my benching and haven't raced since. I'd probably only use it for a half or full marathon, just because I'm slow and it'd cut the boredom.

I know in other areas, cleaning, studying, etc....music has always helped me get more done. And some nice soothing classical or New Age before I go to bed inevitably helps me sleep better. So I'm planted firmly in the "music, when appropriately used, can be a good thing" camp.
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I have to have music going when I run. It's like therapy for me. Plus, I'd go crazy without it on the treadmill.
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