Listening to rap and hip hop music can help people run longer distances as the “motivational” lyrics overcome mental fatigue, a new study has revealed.
In a series of trials at the University of Edinburgh, researchers found that runners who listened to songs from artists including Jay-Z, Kanye West and A$ap Rocky performed better than those who had no music at all.
Experts found mental fatigue, which builds during exercise, can be lessened by music as it distracts runners from realising how much effort they are putting in.
The study, published in the Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, is the first of its kind to investigate the effect of listening to music playlists on endurance running capacity and performance when mentally fatigued.
Researchers used two trials to examine how listening to music affected the running performance of 18 fitness enthusiasts.
One trial looked at the effects on interval running capacity – alternating between high-intensity running and lower intensity jogging – with a group of nine physically active exercisers, and the other on a 5km time-trial with a group of nine trained runners.
The groups completed a 30-minute computer based cognitive test which put them in a mentally fatigued state before completing high intensity exercise.
They were then tested with and without self-selected motivational music. Researchers assisted participants in choosing motivational songs with a pre-test questionnaire asking them to rate the rhythm, style, melody, tempo, sound and beat of the music.
Examples of the songs participants listened to included: Everyday by A$ap Rocky, Run This Town by Jay-Z and Power by Kanye West.
During the exercise, heart rate and rating of perceived exertion were measured at multiple points.
Scientists found the interval running capacity among the mentally fatigued fitness enthusiasts was moderately greater with music compared to without music, and was the same as when the participants were not mentally fatigued.
The 5km time-trial performances also showed small improvements with self-selected music versus no music.
Dr Shaun Phillips, from the University of Edinburgh’s Moray House School of Education and Sport, said: "Mental fatigue is a common occurrence for many of us, and can negatively impact many of our day-to-day activities, including exercise.
"Finding safe and effective ways to reduce this negative impact is therefore useful."
"This positive impact of self-selected music could help people to better maintain the quality and beneficial impact of their exercise sessions."