Exercise not only helps you lose weight while strengthening your muscles, but also gives you an energy boost and improves your mood. That's not all it does! It may make you smarter, too.
Researchers from The Ohio State University have determined that exercising to music may provide a distinct cognitive boost, reports Science Daily. Specifically, when cardiac rehabilitation patients listened to music while working out, their scores on a verbal fluency test increased.
"This is the first study to look at the combined effects of music and short-term exercise on mental performance," said Charles Emery, the study's lead author and a professor of psychology at The Ohio State University in Columbus. "Evidence suggests that exercise improves the cognitive performance of people with coronary artery disease. And listening to music is thought to enhance brain power. We wanted to put the two results together."
The study: Thirty-three men and women who were in the final weeks of a cardiac rehabilitation program after undergoing bypass surgery, angioplasty, or cardiac catheterization, participated in the research. It's long been known that coronary artery disease has the potential to compromise cognitive ability. It is for this reason that cardiac patients were chosen. The participants completed a verbal fluency exam before and after two separate sessions of exercising on a treadmill for 30 minutes. During one of the sessions, they listened to Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons," a classical music piece with a moderate tempo that has been shown in previous research to have positive effects on medical patients. Each patient's level of anxiety and depression were also evaluated before and after the two exercise sessions, which took place one week apart.
The results: Participants reported feeling better emotionally and mentally after working out regardless of whether or not they listened to music. But the improvement in verbal fluency test performance after listening to music was more than double that of the non-music condition, reports Science Daily. "Exercise seems to cause positive changes in the nervous system, and these changes may have a direct effect on cognitive ability," Emery explained. "Listening to music may influence cognitive function through different pathways in the brain. The combination of music and exercise may stimulate and increase cognitive arousal while helping to organize cognitive output."
The takeaway: Exercising to music may make you smarter.
The study findings were published in the journal Heart & Lung.