Music can be the perfect motivation; lightening your mood, cheering you up and getting you moving and working to the beat. Did you know there’s an actual science behind music and motivation?

Helping us to dig deep, music has the amazing ability of improving our endurance; the right tunes can give us that extra push to get us moving.

Science of Motivational Music

The energising effect of music has the ability to engage our sympathetic nervous system – this makes the body ready for action when we are faced with a challenge. The heart rate accelerates, priming the muscles to move, while the auditory signals trigger alerting responses, increasing physiological arousal.

Music is comprised of patterns of sounds that affect levels of physical excitability; so, an increase in the pace of the music quickens our pulse and accelerates our breathing. This is great not only for physical exercise but also for motivating us to carry on, even when we’re experiencing a lull.

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Music and Exercise

Upbeat, high tempo music can really help you to make the most out of your workouts. Research shows that a repetitive beat in a musical rhythm synchronises our brainwaves in a way that ties together the sounds we hear with the way we move.

The co-ordination of repetitive muscle movements can become more efficient by matching these movements to a musical beat. People who run to a beat tend to run faster, using less oxygen than those who don’t pace themselves with music.

Mental and physical endurance are enhanced by music’s ability to draw our attention away from any negative aspects of a task; hence running on a treadmill or using an exercise bike or rowing machine becomes easier if we time our activities to a beat.

Music influences the co-ordination of activity within different parts of the brain, synchronising brain signals and linking cognitive, perceptual and motor processes. Focusing on our favourite song combats the de-motivating brain signals that are associated with fatigue or boredom; upbeat music increases positive feelings about the intensity of the activity.

Many successful business people use music as motivation; choosing songs that lift their spirits – with the unique power of music eliciting the desired emotional reactions.

Favourite Motivational Music

Janelle Goulding is the CEO of City West Housing – a leading housing developer in Australia. She listens to Happy by Pharrell Williams when she needs motivating. She says she concentrates better when she feels happy.

Carolyn Colley, CEO of global company Decimal Software, listens to Beautiful Day by U2. In her words, “it’s a positive song with a great beat, particularly useful when running but also energising because it lifts the spirits, no matter what challenge I might be facing.”

As the epic movie instrumental helps him to concentrate, motivating his brain without the distraction of complex or emotional lyrics, the CEO of skills-based marketplace Airtasker, Tim Fung, listens to the Days of Thunder score by Hans Zimmer.

CEO of portfolio management company Sharesight, Doug Morris, says Good Morning by Kanye West is a “good walking to work song”, as it gets the blood flowing and has inspiring lyrics – in particular, “On this day we become legendary.”

Music is a powerful motivational tool, so next time you face a challenge, think of a strategic musical choice to give your body and brain that much needed boost.