Effects of Music During Exercise on RPE, Heart rate and the Autonomic Nervous System.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between the influence of music on RPE during sub-maximal exercise and on the autonomic nervous system before and after sub-maximal exercise.

Heart rate (HR), HR variability (HRV) and rates of physical fatigue (RPE) during exercise at 60% and at 40% VO2max with and without music were measured. The exercise protocol consisted of a 30-min seated rest (control) period followed by a 30-min submaximal cycling exercise and a 35-min recovery period. Autonomic-nervous activity was measured before and after exercise. During exercise, RPE was recorded every 3 min and HR was recorded for every minute.

Although RPE did not differ during exercise at 60% VO2max, this value was lower during exercise at 40% VO2max in the presence, than in the absence of a favorite piece music (P < 0.05). HR, HFA and LFA/HFA of HRV significantly differed with exercise intensity in the absence (P < 0.05), but not in the presence of music.

These findings suggested that music evokes a ”distraction effect” during low intensity exercise, but might not influence the autonomic nervous system. Therefore, when jogging or walking at comparatively low exercise intensity, listening to a favorite piece of music might decrease the influence of stress caused by fatigue, thus increasing the ”comfort” level of performing the exercise.