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6 Benefits of Music When Cycling

Music on the road is fun — as long as you stay within your limits

The year was 1910. Researcher Leonard P. Ayres is busy observing a six-day bike race at Madison Square Garden, New York. Armed with his stopwatch and notebook, Ayres timed the bikers as they cycle around the velodrome. 

On the sidelines was a brass band, playing for a few minutes at a time. While recording lap times, Ayres noticed a fascinating connection between music and cycling. He recorded that as the band is playing, the bikers take an average of 3 minutes and 4 seconds to finish a mile. But, when the band is not playing, the average time to complete a lap shoots up to 3 minutes and 21 seconds. 

“The music seems to be inspiring the participants to bike harder.” Ayres wrote.  

That encounter was the beginning of decades of earnest research into music’s effect on biking and exercise. Many followed Ayres’ footsteps and now we have enough evidence to show that music does have an effect. 

Below are some of them: 

1. Music is a distraction —- in a good way. 

There’s more to music than just being a distraction. Studies show that working out with music makes people less aware of how much energy they are exerting. Hence, they feel less tired and become more productive. 

The more upbeat the tunes you are listening to, the more information your brain needs to process and less aware you are of your physical exertion. 

2. Music increases your effort. 

In 2010, a group of experts conducted a study on 12 healthy male student cyclists. They found out that a music’s tempo can have a direct effect on cadence, heart rate, and speed of the cyclists. The students cycled more on faster music compared to tracks with a slower tempo.  

“Individuals performing submaximal exercise not only worked harder with faster music but also chose to do so and enjoyed the music more when it was played at a faster tempo.”

For best results, listen to songs with 120 – 140 beats per minute.  

3. Music keeps you at a good pace. 

Music, specifically it’s rhythm, stimulates your brain’s motor area — dictating when you should move. This makes good beats a must-have for exercises where pacing is important. Bikers can use their energy more efficiently by clueing into a music’s time signals. Keeping a steady, consistent pace is easier on the body too as opposed to an erratic exercise session.  

4. Music can improve your mood.  

A 2003 study revealed that most people listen to music to find self-awareness and improve their mood. Music has allowed the participants to think deeper about themselves — providing an escape from a busy, fast-paced present. 

Music can help tune out the negativity in your life. It can improve your mood and give you more confidence as you bike around these picture-perfect trails

5. Music helps you focus. 

Nothing feels as great as being “in the zone” when biking. Studies show that music can improve physical performance by channeling the emotions of the singer to the listener. Try doing a high-intensity bike ride listening to Kanye West’s Power and tell us in the comments if we are wrong. 

6. Music makes you want to move.

It’s hard to resist a good beat. Even if you’re just taking your afternoon snack, if there’s music in the background, you can never resist the urge of moving your toes. There’s science behind it. According to researchers, music with “high-groove” qualities makes the brain excited and induces movement. 

No matter how much you hate biking in the rain when your workout playlist starts playing, you’ll move!  

Which Beat to Listen to When Riding

I’ll give you the freedom to make your cycling playlist. Below is a general guide on which beats/genres to listen to depending on what type of ride you are doing. 

Type of Ride Ideal Beats per Minute Best Genre
Recover 100-110 Country/Hip-Hop
Intervals 160+  Heavy Metal
Tempo 140-150 Techno/Rock
Endurance 120-130 Pop/Alternative

Tips on How to Listen to Music on the Road 

Listening to music while riding sure has a lot of benefits. But it can be a safety risk too if you are not careful. Below are some tips on how to listen to your favourite playlist without compromising your safety. 

1. Use one earbud.

Don’t wear your left earbud — the ear that faces traffic. Only wear your right earbuds so you can still enjoy your tracks without losing awareness of cars, people, animals, and other bikers on the road. The last thing you want is a dog, a person, or a car door surprising you.  

If you are a hopeless audiophile, you can always buy high-quality single earbuds or bone conduction headphones. 

Check out our 9 best bone conduction headphones here. 

2. Don’t go over 60 decibels. 

Most earphones max out at 105 decibels. On the other hand, normal talking is about 40-60 decibels. According to health experts, 60 decibels is the ideal limit when listening to music in your earbuds. 

3. Don’t go over 60 minutes. 

Music can be distracting and damaging. Prolonged exposure to loud music through your earbuds can affect your hearing and ability to focus while biking. Limit your jamming sessions to 60 minutes a day. If you need more time, just turn the volume a few notches down. 

4. Don’t wear earbuds on social rides.

Social rides are a great ways to enjoy biking and the company of your friends. Wearing earbuds can be rude and may come out as you being antisocial.

5. Obey the rules

Some bike races have rules about listening to music while biking. There are even some states or cities that ban music on the road. Be a good citizen and obey these rules. You can always enjoy your music later or when you are riding your bike trainer

Music on the road is fun! As long as you stay within your limits, you’ll get to enjoy the amazing benefits that healthy music can offer on your rides. 

 

Happy biking!

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Written by Sean Kramer

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