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Olympics and Science: Can music improve athletic performance? (VIDEO)

Now that the Winter Olympics are underway in Sochi, Russia, AsapScience and the CBC have produced a series of videos to be released during the games.  Some of the topics include “Why Do We Get Nervous?”; “What Are Your Odds of Becoming An Olympian?”; and “Amazing Olympic Facts.”

One video called “Can Music Improve Athletic Performance?” shows the value of music during training and competition (click on “Playlist” and scroll down to this video).

According to Brunel University’s Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D. — one of the leading experts in the field of psychological and physical effects of music — listening to music during exercise and training can help to elevate heart rate and increase level of performance through more efficient synchronization.

One of the more important benefits of music, particularly to the aspiring Olympic athlete, is the positive impact on motor skills.  Karageorghis identifies three reasons music can boost motor abilities:

1) “Music replicates forms of bodily rhythm and many aspects of human locomotion. Hence, music can transport the body through effective movement patterns.”

2) “The lyrics from well-chosen music can reinforce essential aspects of a sporting technique. For instance, in track and field, the track “Push It” (by Salt-n-Pepa) is ideal for reinforcing the idea that the shot should be put, not thrown; throwing the shot is the most common technical error.”

3) “Music makes the learning environment more fun, increasing players’ intrinsic motivation to master key skills.”


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