Effects of synchronous and asynchronous music on heart rate and perceived exertion during aerobic exercise: Pilot study


  • Pongsakorn Chaisurin Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University, THAILAND Tel: +66-53-936322 Fax: +66-53-936322
  • Jakkrit Klapajone
  • Pongson Yaicharoen




Objectives: Our objective was to investigate physiological effects of three types of sounds (synchronous, non-synchronous and white noise) on heart rate, rating of perceived exertion (RPE) and satisfactory level during aerobic exercise.

Study design: Pilot cross-over study, single-blind

Setting: SuanDok fitness center, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University.

Subjects: Fifteen healthy individuals, aged 18-40 years (mean ± SD = 30.2 ± 4.0) with no prior history of pain, musculoskeletal disorders, cardiopulmonary diseases, neurological diseases and hearing impairment.

Methods: Subjects who were asked to exercise to exhaustion (with target heart rate in an aerobic zone) on elliptical machines were randomly assigned to listen to 1) a music with beats matching the exercise cadence; synchronous music or 2) a music with variable beats not matching the cadence; asynchronous music or 3) a control sound using white noise in each of 3 exercise sessions. Heart rate and Borg’s Ratings of Perceived Exertion (RPE) were measured at 10 and 20 minutes after starting the exercise. Satisfactory level was also assessed.

Results: All fifteen participants with an average age of 30.2 ± 4.0 years completed the exercise protocol. The synchronous music session gave a significant reduction in heart rate at 10 and 20 minutes when compared with asynchronous and white noise sessions. There was no significant difference of heart rate between asynchronous music and white noise sessions at 10 and 20 minutes. Regarding Borg’s RPE, the synchronous session showed significantly lower RPE at 10 and 20 minutes when compared with asynchronous music and white noise sessions. There was no significant difference between RPE in asynchronous music and white noise session. Overall satisfaction using numeric rating scale of 0-10 revealed average satisfactory levels for synchronous music, asynchronous music and white noise of 8.27 ± 1.16, 5.2 ± 2.65 and 2.73 ± 1.62 respectively. 

Conclusion: Synchronous music had a positive impact on an exercise as it could reduce heart rate and perceived exertion during the exercise. A consistent pace could be auditorily stimulated by coupling exercise cadence on the elliptical machine to the synchronous music tempo, leading to better auditory-motor synchronization.

Keywords: synchronous music, exercise, RPE, tempo, elliptical machine



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