• from moment to moment

Music & mind & performance

The role of music in the mind? The role of the mind in sport? The role of music in sport?

Successful sportsmen and sportswomen believe in themselves. They are poised, attentive, determined. They manage to live in competitive tension, do not drown in their own emotions, and use positive thinking or imagination to their full advantage. Sport is hard work.

In addition to physical abilities, we must train the strength of our minds. Research suggests that mental training can have a good effect on performance in a wide range of sports and that it helps athletes regulate cognitive and affective states. Mindset interferes with our mood, emotions, motivation and relationships with others. The right thoughts can also greatly influence our productivity and performance. Body, mind and brain. Mental well-being and good shape. It's an interconnected circle and also a real effort not to break it somewhere.

Strengthen your body in the gym, train your brain with music

You turn the stereo system to the right and Dave Grohl yells at you What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays? You're the pretender. The vibrations carry through the air and enter the auditory meatus, tickle the tympanic membrane, and travel to the three auditory ossicles in the middle ear. There they turn into mechanical pressure waves directed at the fluids of the inner ear. The cochlea. The waves ripple the tiny hair cells, which detect the movement and translate it into neurotransmitters that activate the auditory nerve. Hang on, we're almost there. The auditory nerve starts sending out electrical signals that our brain can already interpret as sound. Voilà. Do you feel Dave asking you So, who are you?

The brain is a big music fan. Its different parts are responsible for interpreting different aspects of music. For example, the temporal lobe "reads" the melody, harmony, or chords, the cerebellum perceives the rhythm, and the frontal lobe colors it all with an emotional response. Through music, you activate and synchronize almost all parts of the brain. You also awaken certain areas of the memory and motor system.

The power of the brain

Well, why are we thinking about it? Because when you use all those brain pathways and networks, you strengthen them. Conversely, inactivity weakens you. And the brain always comes in handy, not just in a race. Sport is a very personal thing that mirrors not only hard training but everyday life. It absorbs all emotions and can be closely linked to feelings of self-confidence and self-worth. Music affects the mental state of the brain. It is the perfect tool to refresh it in a pleasant way. With its proper stimulation, you boost your cognitive abilities and learning, productivity, well-being and happiness. Studies indicate that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure and pain. It can improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness and memory. What you experience in life then touches your sports personality. Amen.

Mozart or Eminem? Fatigue reliever and motivator?

You are the brain. So it will listen to what you like. Forget the controversial Mozart effect, the battle of genres has no winner, rather rely on your taste. In fact, studies show that you'll be more efficient when listening to your favourite songs. The music you like can significantly reduce perceived exertion during exercise and, in turn, boost your mood and motivation.

Silence helps. Music more.

Do you bench press, your favourite music is playing on the speaker and your body's physical performance is increasing? A study from 2019 confirms it. The preferred music encouraged bench press repetitions and overall work, even benefiting heart rate recovery after exercise. Right, the music you like. Regardless of musical form or style. Another study examined strength and explosiveness. Bench press and jump squats, again in the context of the music of your choice. It showed that a favorite musical backing can alter mood state and increase acute explosive power. Then, for repeated anaerobic bicycle sprints, motivation and perceived exertion level were influenced in a positive direction.

You don't even need to get special motivational compilations for aerobic exercise and endurance training. This is also where your own musical preferences play a role, which can elevate physical performance and, conversely, lower the level of perceived exertion. Incidentally, the findings of this study showed that audio provides better service in sensory stimulation than video. So? Repeated measurements of another study then suggested that music builds the ability to "endure". Especially rhythms that are synchronized with physical movement. Synchronous music was able to increase endurance scores during the physical test by approximately 2 minutes compared to the asynchronous variant and by 1.5 minutes compared to silence. Can our pace synchronize with the music? This too has already been proven in cycling tests. And the answer is yes. If you want to get more out of yourself, listen to the brisker tones. Faster music led to higher speed, greater physiological effects and more positive subjective responses than slower songs.

But not to discriminate... relaxing music or classical music are great anti-stressors, even on an objective level. One study looked at changes in salivary cortisol levels and the role of relaxing music and silence. It found that listening was able to put the brakes on the rise in salivary cortisol observed after exposure to a stressor, while silence kept its levels rising for 30 minutes. The positive impact of music was also mentioned in other research, where it helped lower systolic blood pressure after a stressful task. More than silence. Or rather, only the classical ones; other styles of music did not produce significant cardiovascular recovery compared to quiet. Other results came up with the fact that listening to one's own choice or classical music after exposure to a stressor significantly reduced negative emotional states and physiological arousal – compared to listening to heavy metal or sitting quietly.

You suspected it. The music is great. No wonder its benefits on stress, mood and physical performance have come to the attention of scientists. Of course, these are just a few select studies that open up more room for discussion. But why not check them out for yourself? You don't have to consume any weird potions. There's still covid and other worries, positive thoughts with a good dose of motivation are more than needed. So before you reach for the pills, try more pleasant ways. Maybe turn on the "PLAY" button on your music player.