Purpose: Synchronizing movement to a musical beat may reduce the metabolic cost of exercise, but findings to date have been equivocal. Our aim was to examine the degree to which the synchronous application of music moderates the metabolic demands of a cycle ergometer task.
Methods: Twenty-three recreationally active men made two laboratory visits. During the first visit, participants completed a maximal incremental ramp test on a cycle ergometer. At the second visit, they completed four randomized 6-min cycling bouts at 90% of ventilatory threshold (control, metronome, synchronous music, and asynchronous music). Main outcome variables were oxygen uptake, HR, ratings of dyspnea and limb discomfort, affective valence, and arousal.
Results: No significant differences were evident for oxygen uptake. HR was lower under the metronome condition (122 ± 15 bpm) compared to asynchronous music (124 ± 17 bpm) and control (125 ± 16 bpm). Limb discomfort was lower while listening to the metronome (2.5 ± 1.2) and synchronous music (2.3 ± 1.1) compared to control (3.0 ± 1.5). Both music conditions, synchronous (1.9 ± 1.2) and asynchronous (2.1 ± 1.3), elicited more positive affective valence compared to metronome (1.2 ± 1.4) and control (1.2 ± 1.2), while arousal was higher with synchronous music (3.4 ± 0.9) compared to metronome (2.8 ± 1.0) and control (2.8 ± 0.9).
Conclusions: Synchronizing movement to a rhythmic stimulus does not reduce metabolic cost but may lower limb discomfort. Moreover, synchronous music has a stronger effect on limb discomfort and arousal when compared to asynchronous music.