How to use music to beat mental fatigue

Latest research suggests exercising to music helps to boost your performance when you're running on empty. Here's what you need to know.


The idea of improving your endurance performance – notably running – by listening to music is nothing new. But the idea of music cranking up your efforts when mentally fatigued is, and is a subject drilled down into by a team from the University of Edinburgh.


Researchers recruited 18 fitness enthusiasts and split them into two groups of nine. One group alternated between low and high intensity to test interval running capacity, the other completed a 5km time-trial.

Beforehand, both completed a computer-based cognitive test to put them in a fatigued state, and then ran with and without self-selected motivational music. Song examples included Addicted to You by Avicii, Run this Town by Jay-Z and, the banger of bangers, Eye of the Tiger by Survivor.

The results? In both groups, the music helped them dig deep, overcome mental fatigue and improve performance over running without music.

As many experts argue fatigue’s a construct of the brain rather than purely physical, it seems striding to your favourite beats can help you to mentally overcome the rigours of a day at work.


Illustration: Daniel Seex