Motivation and emotion/Book/2014/Music and exercise motivation

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Music and exercise:
How does music motivate you during physical activity?
Judas Priest Live: Heavy Metal; one of many sub-genres of music that motivate more[explain?] than just exercise

Overview[edit | edit source]

Exercise and physical activity is an action that at some point in time influences the lives of most people on the planet. People can be elite athletes, exercise for enjoyment, health conscious or exercising as a form of rehabilitation[grammar?][Rewrite to improve clarity]. The limits to why people exercise is endless; however apart from numerous health benefits, potential financial reasons and various other reasons to exercise, it can cause a person immense pain and push the human body to limits people believed unachievable[factual?]. The fact that exercise is strenuous and painful as a precursor to the amazing health benefits; it places great strain on a persons will and motivation to participate in something that hurts[Rewrite to improve clarity][factual?].

Motivation to exercise for the over 60% of people classified as being overweight or obese in Australia alone is a difficult intention to achieve (Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council, 2014). With this staggering number of people motivation for exercise and increased performance is at an extreme high, with physical activity participation being in dire circumstances[explain?]. Can psychological theories such as Cognitive Evaluation theory and Self-Determination theory aid in increase motivation, with help from other external variables?

Music plays a vital role to the day to day lives of billions of people around the world. It can influence behaviour, emotion, action and decisions. Music is an art form that reaches everybody and can be the driving force behind how a person will act during the day; it can change moods and also be one of the most efficient forms of therapy when a person resonates with pitch, tune, tempo and of course lyrics[factual?]. How can music;[grammar?] a global art from with such power and influence over the emotions of people be put to use as a motivational and influential factor in increasing the desire to exercise and increase physical effort? How can music in all of its pure forms be utilised through psychological theories of Cognitive Evaluation Theory and Self-Determination Theory as a means to motivate people to exercise or increase their performance when exercising?

Theory[edit | edit source]

Cognitive Evaluation Theory and Self-Determination Theory look at intrinsic and extrinsic forms of motivation. This book chapter looks at how cognitive evaluation theory and self-determination theory can motivate someone to exercise and increase performance through the use of music as a tool for motivation. This chapter looks at how effective music can be in externally influencing a person prior to and during exercise of various intensities, as well as the research supporting music as a motivation tool accompanying cognitive evaluation theory and self-determination theory applications. The chapter also looks at the limitations that accompany the use of Cognitive Evaluation Theory and Self-Determination Theory as motivational foundations for exercise.

Cognitive Evaluation Theory[edit | edit source]

Cognitive Evaluation Theory: “(CET) is a precursor of self-determination theory and centres on the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation (Moss, 2012)” Cognitive Evaluation theory looks at the intrinsic motivational state of the athlete when met with external competition and motivation. CET has a basis of an extrinsic reward system as a means to increase or positively skew intrinsic motivation. The internal feeling of control over the exercise participation and achieving progress towards some goals is putting CET into practice to increase intrinsic motivation to continue or start exercise participation (Holt, 2000). However, CET has been met with criticism over its use and external research has concluded that CET and extrinsic rewards can actually lower intrinsic motivation. A review of CET literature has found significant results against the limitations of CET, which can have a detrimental effect on its implication (Rummel, 1988). However, use with Self-Determination theory and the motivation effects of music, the limitations of CET’s external rewards can begin to increase intrinsic motivation.

Self-Determination Theory[edit | edit source]

Self-Determination Theory: “(SDT) is a theory of motivation. It is concerned with supporting our natural or intrinsic tendencies to behave in effective and healthy ways (, 2014)”. SDT is derived from intrinsic motivation as well as a various selection of extrinsic motivations, influenced by social and cultural contexts (, 2014). SDT looks at the alteration of conditions in the context of the participant. Exercise and SDT focuses on the experience in order to increase “competence, autonomy and relatedness (, 2014)” as a means to alter and positively raise levels of optimal performance, persistence and creativity (, 2014). SDT places emphasis on intrinsic motivation that for participants is free from external control and influences. Self-Determination Theory allows the participant to develop an intrinsic form of motivation to begin or continue exercise without relying on an extrinsic motivation and rewards based influence (Chemolli, 2014).

Theoretical Framework[edit | edit source]

Music, SDT and CET: SDT, CET and music have a significant link as to how they motivate and athlete to exercise or increase their performance through a positive combination of extrinsic and intrinsic forms of influence and motivation. SDT uses its association with intrinsic motivation as a foundation to validate the potential extrinsic rewards of CET; and that the intrinsic motivation is ultimately facilitated by autonomy with strengthen influences from CET (Frederick, 1995). Various research suggests that extrinsic motivators through CET such as sporting scholarships and prizes are showing significant signs of undermining SDT’s intrinsic motivation (Kingston, 2006). The undermining effects of CET on a seemingly more prominent source of motivation found through SDT may in turn be countered by the extrinsic and intrinsic motivational prospects found in music, for example low self-determination may be positively affected by exercising to the rhythm of particular music which resonates with the participant, drawing motivation from the lyrics. This can decrease perceived exertion and aid in increase not only physical output but also igniting intrinsic motivation to perform for longer (Mcallister, 1996). The use of music as a motivational force is an adaptation of CET, and when used during exercise can significantly increase performance when compared to no music, without a high percentage to undermine the intrinsic motivation of SDT (Costas I. Karageorghisa, 2013).

The use of music and the fundamentals of SDT and CET has shown significant results that can be adopted as a means for people to begin or continue to live healthier and much more motivated lives. Cognitive Evaluation Theory and Self-Determination Theory motivate people to increase physical exercise output with the help of both synchronous and asynchronous music when compared to no music. Research results have also found that using music as a CET extrinsic motivation form has concluded in a slight increase of dissociative thoughts during exercise by 2% (Costas I. Karageorghisa, 2013). The dissociative thoughts during exercise act as an intrinsic form of distraction that are used to separate the focus of the participant from the pain and exhaustion experienced through exercise and switch the focus to the music. The use of music in exercise results in ergogenic effects that either raises the performance endurance and work capacity or delays the recognising of fatigue to allow the body to perform better (Costas I. Karageorghisa, 2013).

Limitations[edit | edit source]

CET and SDT have small limitations when applied to exercise, that hinder the motivational potential for the athlete. Each theory proposes potential negative consequences on both external and intrinsic motivation levels. This is due to the ideal that various factors such as knowledge of evaluation, anticipation and disappointment with rewards and failure, can play a detrimental role in the reduction of an athlete’s motivation to exercise.

CET is an extrinsic rewards based form of motivation for example the prospect of eating a cake if someone burns off 200 calories. This form of motivation can be very effective but can however result in lower levels on intrinsic motivation making it extremely difficult to begin exercising before the reward can be offered (Thill, 1995). The reduction of intrinsic motivation can have a dramatic effect on the persons will to exercise when an external reward or motivational influence is not presented, and thus showing a significant limitation on CET. The rewards also can cause the participant to analyse their successes or failures in performance and consequently lead them to placing a small need for the external influences as a means to return to their increased performance level (Thill, 1995). There are two types of external rewards for CET, being verbal rewards such as praise and encouragement; which research suggest positively increase intrinsic motivation and tangible rewards such as money, which is where research finds significant negative effects on intrinsic motivation (Moss, 2012).

SDT’s focus on intrinsic motivation is also met with negative limitations. The intrinsic motivation and will to perform places strain on the athletes need for individual satisfaction and when met with failures can greatly hinder their future performance (Sheldon, 2006). This is done through experience of failures and success. It gives the participant either a negative result or overly positive which can begin to lower an athlete’s drive and motivation to better themselves; because of fear they will fail again or lack of motivation because they already achieved a personal goal (Frederick, 1995). SDT also raises the negative question as the whether a participants choices to exercise actually improves their performance levels or encourages mere satisfaction with their performance whilst showing no motivation to push further (Edward L. Deci., 2002). Also the consensual and known evaluation of an athlete and monitoring of their performances can lower their sense of self determination; and ultimately result in decreased intrinsic motivation (Richard M. Ryan., 2000). The evaluation of exercise performance can also result in the athlete undermining their own sense of self-determination by just imagining that somebody is evaluating their performance (Richard M. Ryan., 2000).

Musical Motivation Framework[edit | edit source]

The role that music plays in the lives of people ranges from the most important thing in life to a hobby, however the influence it has can’t be denied. Which begs the question how much effect does music have on a single person? Can music be solely responsible for influencing someone into going outside for a run, or to the gym? And can music actually increase physical performance in terms of endurance, strength and power? Using Cognitive Evaluation Theory and Self-Determination theory, this chapter looks at how the use of music can be used to motivate one into not only performing exercise but raising their peak performance levels and competitiveness for the workout session.

The use of music in physical exercise and sport has been a focal talking point over the past 5 years due to its potential for a psychological and psychophysical effects on the physical exertion limits and promoting psychological comfort during the action undertaken (Karageorghis, 2012) . A specific genre or form of music used to have such a psychological effect on an athlete is not set and at present is intuitive. However studies have shown that music used for recreational exercisers increase its beneficial effects such as decreased exertion, reduced oxygen uptake and increased endurance should be between 125-140 beats per minute (Karageorghis, 2012). Genre and lyrics has an external influence on the intrinsic motivation during exercise as well as rhythm and tempo. Swimmers, cyclists and runners alike have been shown to thrive and perform at their peak for longer as a direct result of a combination of CET’s extrinsic rewards, SDT’s intrinsic motivations and music’s emotional and physical influence on the athletes’ performance (Thow, 1995).

Tempo[edit | edit source]

Tempo and rhythm play an important role in music being used during and before exercise to motivate participation[factual?]. Using the tempo levels of 125-140 beats per minute when compared to no music at all has a detrimental effect on an athlete’s performance[factual?]. The notion that the faster an athlete’s exercise rate the faster the music tempo should be, has been seen to be beneficial earlier in the use of music as an extrinsic motivational tool[factual?]. However tempo has been shown to have a small yet significant effect on the perceived effort and heart rate of athletes; as it was found that oxygen uptake was reduced by up to 7% and when athletes began to synchronize their movements to the tempo and beat of the music, perceived exertion was also reduced (Reddy, 2013). The use of music as motivation to increase performance has limitations. Research suggests that the influence and motivation of music tends to have little impact when the participant begins training at a very intense and elite level of exertion[explain?] (Reddy, 2013).

Lyrics[edit | edit source]

Lyrics are an extremely emotional, influential and motivation part of songs and music, and can play a role how a person interprets, listens to and identifies with music. Not all music involves lyrics and can be just as powerful and emotive as those with lyrics. However can lyrics motivate an athlete to perform better with the accompaniment of music? Or will instrumental pieces play the pivotal role in motivating an athlete to perform better physically and mentally? The influence of lyrics on exercise motivation has not seen significant research, even though lyrics can directly influence and motivate mood, emotion promote a dissociation effect which can drastically change and reduce the perception of effort or a ‘pain barrier’ (Costas I. Karageorghis., 2014). Research suggests that exercising to music accompanied by lyrics has a small, yet positively stronger effect on motivation to increase performance levels than music without lyrics or instrumental versions of chosen songs (Costas I. Karageorghis., 2014). This shows that lyrics play a small but important role in stacking on the use of music as a motivational tool to increase exercise performance levels accompanying CET and SDT as working foundations.

Genre[edit | edit source]

Genre of music can play a major role in the individual effects of motivation to exercise and during physical exertion. Each athlete has a particular taste in music and will listen to a selection of that particular genre as a means to motivate themselves during exercise for example a heavy metal listener may listen to “Kirisute Gomen” performed by the American Heavy Metal band Trivium on their fourth studio album entitled “Shogun”. Specifically[grammar?] a heavy metal fan may listen to this song due to its rapid and upbeat tempo, its aggressive composition and its intimidating and purposeful lyrics (Trivium, 2008).

To view audio click link Kirisute Gomen .

However, apart from individual preference, a significant lack of research doesn’t give any notion that a particular genre of music can motivate a person to participate in exercise or increase their activity performance. Individual music taste and preference also has an effect on physical performance. Listening to a preferred musical preference shows significant increase in physical performance and a reduction in perceived effort, however musical motivational quality had little effect (Lu, 2013).

How Does Music Effect Exercise?[edit | edit source]

The advantageous effects of music on physical performance is widely spread amongst different areas of psychological stimulation and motivation.

Dissociation[edit | edit source]

Dissociation is an effect where the attention is narrowed or diverted from a specific area of discomfort, which in this case is the feelings of fatigue, pain and exhaustion during exercise. The use of music lowers the athlete’s perceptions of effort and can distract an athlete from sensations of fatigue by influence positive mood changes (Priest, 2008). The use of music dissociates from negative moods and emotions during exercise such as anger and depression whilst promoting and increase in happiness whilst training; however as intensity increases the negative effects and fatigue begin to override the positive due to rapid increases in heart-rate, blood flow and lactic acid build up (Priest, 2008). High intensity workouts are not affected as much by music but do aid in helping the athlete feel better about the situation (Priest, 2008).

Arousal[edit | edit source]

Music can influence an athlete’s motivation to exercise by either “psyching them up” by stimulating their levels and regulations of arousal, or as a means to sedate or calm anxious feelings and nervousness (Priest, 2008). Loud, upbeat and aggressive music has been found to be most effective when used to “psyche up”, with music of a slow tempo is used to aid in the athletes relaxation (Priest, 2008).


Music tempo and rhythmic form can also be used to regulate an athlete’s movement throughout exercise and thus increase work rate and performance. [missing something?] Activates which require a sense of rhythm to prolong endurance such as running, cycling and skipping can be significantly affected and aided through the use of music as a tool of regulation and motivation (Priest, 2008). A positive example of music motivation and synchronisation was that cyclist’s[grammar?] when pedalling to music were found to use 7% less oxygen to those without (Bishop, 2007). A similar study was conducted that found that using music at a motivational tool can increase running speed by 0.5 seconds in a 400m trial (Priest, 2008).

Cycling Spin Class

Motor Skills[edit | edit source]

Music can also be used as a way to improve coordination and create a means to explore numerous forms or motion. Music selected for the purpose of exercise motivation and stimulation of performance can result in a positive effect on not only motivation to exercise but fluidity of movement resulting in less exertion of energy (Priest, 2008). Research suggest three plausible reasons as to why music has a positive effect on motor skills. (Priest, 2008) Notions that Musicality, rhythm and tempo can replicate natural human rhythm and movement which aids in providing effective and less strenuous muscle movement. As well as lyrics being a positive reinforcement of both movements of the body as well as motivations behind the exercise for example, during weights training the song “The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears” (By Machine Head ) aggressively pays tribute to consistency and endurance through the lyrics in the chorus[Rewrite to improve clarity]:

"It's all about the blood, the sweat, the tears

A tribute to the strength

Built through the years"

To view audio click the following link: The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears.

Thirdly (Priest, 2008) suggests that music makes the activity fun and more enjoyable, which in turn raises the intrinsic motivation found in SDT to master or continue specific skills as a direct result of the extrinsic motivation methodology of CET.

What Makes Music Important?[edit | edit source]

Various research finds significant positive results [grammar?] that the use of music as a CET extrinsic motivational tool is a major influence on the motivation to perform exercise initially or increase performance. SDT and CET use the effects of music in a highly beneficial way to not only strengthen intrinsic and external motivation to begin exercise, but also to continue with increased endurance and fluidity of movement.

The role that music plays in effective and healthy living cannot be denied, whilst preferences change and music can’t motivate everything a person does, it contributes as a motivational tool in areas that can make a person feel better about themselves, successful in achieving a goal etc.[Rewrite to improve clarity] musical motivation to exercise and increase performance has majorly significant research behind its beneficial effects, with few limitations.

CET and SDT both use music effectively to increase external and intrinsic motivation to exercise and further study is needed to continually test how these benefits can be applied in other areas of life or to achieve even more positive results.

Music is an art form that appeals and effects the world on a daily basis. The impact it has on people’s state of mind is unquestionable and it plays to people’s emotions, motivations, livelihoods, hobbies and life purpose. Music in many ways aids with facing a tedious, fulfilled or harsh reality of life to billions around the world.

Interactive Activity[edit | edit source]

Which Music Genre is the most popular to psyche up when exercising?

Which genre will reign supreme?



Electronic Dance Music





Hip Hop




Click Link to answer and see which Genre is best:

Which Music Genre is the most popular to psyche up when exercising?

References[edit | edit source]

Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council. (2014, June 19). Obesity and Overweight. Retrieved from National Health and Medical Research Council:

Bishop, D. T. (2007). A grounded theory of young tennis players’ use of music to manipulate emotional state. . Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, Volume 29, 584-607.

Chemolli, E. &. (2014). Evidence against the continuum structure underlying motivation measures derived from self-determination theory. Psychological Assessment, 575-585.

Costas I. Karageorghis., S. L. (2014). On the role of lyrics in the music–exercise performance relationship. Psychology of Sport and Exercise: Volume 15, 132-138.

Costas I. Karageorghisa, J. C. (2013). Psychological, psychophysical, and ergogenic effects of music in swimming. Psychology of Sport and Exercise: Volume 14, 560-568.

Edward L. Deci., R. M. (2002). The paradox of achievement: The harder you push, the worse it gets. . In J. A. (Ed), Improving academic achievement: Impact of psychological factors on education. (pp. 62-90). San Diego: Academic Press.

Frederick, C. M. (1995). Self-determination in sport: A review using cognitive evaluation theory. International Journal Of Sport Psychology Volume 26, 5-23.

Holt, J. L. (2000). Putting Theory into Practice: How Cognitive Evaluation Theory Can Help Us Motivate Children in Physical Activity Environments. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance: Volume 71, 44-49.

Karageorghis, C. I.-l. (2012). The BASES Expert Statement on use of music in exercise. Journal of Sports Sciences Volume 30, 953-957.

Kingston, K. M. (2006). Do multidimensional intrinsic and extrinsic motivation profiles discriminate between athlete scholarship status and gender? European Journal of Sport Science: Volume 6, 53-64.

Lu, J.-H. L.-H. (2013). Interactive Effects of Visual and Auditory Intervention on Physical Performance and Perceived Effort. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine Volume 12, 388-393.

Mcallister, P. A. (1996). Differential effects of controlling versus informational situations for motivation in music: An application of self-determination theory. Kent: US : ProQuest Information & Learning.

Moss, D. S. (2012, August 27). Cognitive evaluation theory. Retrieved from Psyche-It:

Priest, C. K.-L. (2008, July 7). Music in Sport and Exercise : An Update on Research and Application. Retrieved from The Sport Journal:

Reddy, S. (2013). Your Health: Optimal Music for the Gym --- Researchers Say The Right Tempo Boosts Stamina, Energy Efficiency. The Wall Street Journal, 1.

Richard M. Ryan., a. E. (2000). Self determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well being. American Psychologist Volume 55, 68-78.

Rummel, A. &. (1988). COGNITIVE EVALUATION THEORY: A META-ANALYTIC REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, Volume 16, 147-164. (2014). Selfdeterminationtheory. Retrieved from

Sheldon, M. V. (2006). There’s nothing more practical than a good theory: Integrating motivational interviewing and self-determination theory. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 63-82.

Thill, E. E. (1995). Cognitive theories of motivation in sport. European perspectives on exercise and sport psychology , 195-217.

Thow, L. S. (1995). The Effect of Music on the Perception of Effort and Mood During Aerobic Type Exercise. Physiotherapy: Volume 81, 592-596.

Trivium. (2008, September 30). Kirisute Gomen. Nashville, Tennessee, United States of America.

YouTube, (2014). "Machine Head - The Blood, the Sweat, the Tears" [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Oct. 2014]

YouTube, (2014). "Trivium - Kirisute Gomen (Audio)" [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Oct. 2014]