Music influences recovery after exercise

Many professional and recreational athletes alike want to increase performance and undertake vigorous training or use supplements to allow them to train at a higher intensity or recover more quickly. But although the mind is one of, if not the largest limiting factor on performance, the effects of motivational music on performance, and how music influences recovery  in particular, had never been well studied up until now.

However, since professional athletes are not allowed to listen to music during contests or it would be impractical to do so, a study lead by Michal Eliakim determined the effects on recovery after exercise instead.

In this study 20 young active men performed a six-minute run at peak oxygen consumption speed. Heart rate, rate of perceived exertion, number of steps and blood lactate concentration were measured at different time point during recovery from exercise, with and without motivational music. Each participant performed this test 2 times in random order to rule out any learning effects.

No differences in heart frequency were found between the 2 conditions, but motivational music did have an effect on the other measures. It increased the number of steps during recovery and this was accompanied by a greater decrease in blood lactate concentration and therefore a larger decrease in rate of perceived exertion. In other words, motivational music increases post workout activity leading to faster lactate clearance and therefore better recovery.

The results from this study have important implications for training athletes required to train very hard. If rate of recovery can be increased, training intensity or volume can also be increased, resulting in increased performance, with less risk of overtraining. To determine if this is true, further research is needed however.


-Eliakim, M, Bodner, E, Eliakim, A, Nemet, D, and Meckel, Y. Effect of motivational music on lactate levels during recovery from intense exercise. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 2012, 26(1): 80–86.