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Why Music Makes Exercise Easier

Posted 2/6/2017 by UHBlog

Did you know that being active is part of your evolution? We can help you find something you enjoy doing so you get moving again.

Why Music Makes Exercise Easier

If your interest in exercise is waning, it’s time to switch your music up. It turns out you're born to groove and move.

“As we evolved as humans, our auditory cortex and our motor cortex developed,” says vascular neurologist Michael DeGeorgia, MD, director of the UH Center for Music and Medicine.

This led to our ability to speak and understand language. Later, when music entered into the human experience, it affected our premotor and motor cortices, which are regions of the brain thought to be involved in the planning, control and execution of voluntary movements. As the music and its rhythm spilled over us, we tapped our feet and synchronized our body movements to the beat, something that music cognition researchers call “entrainment.”

“Music and movement are intrinsically linked,” Dr. DeGeorgia says. “When you listen to music, your premotor cortex and motor cortex are activated. The more predictable the music, the more your body wants to move.”

Your music choices help or hinder the music's predictability, which in turn affects how fast you'll run or how hard you'll work out.

“We really like when music takes a slight deviation and comes back to safe ground,” he says. “Musical detours that go too far off the well-known path make us uncomfortable, but those that are just a little different and don’t follow the same old pattern, we really, really like.”

According to Dr. DeGeorgia, when musical patterns follow a set of rules that your brain can predict, not only is the music likeable, but you’re emotionally and physically affected. Your body releases dopamine – a feel-good hormone – from your brain's pleasure center.

“With music, it’s so connected with our movement, since the beginning of our evolution,” he says. “It (music) can help us exercise and exercise makes us feel good. The more you move, the better – and healthier – you'll be.”

Michael DeGeorgia, MD is a vascular neurologist and the director of the Center for Music and Medicine and the Neurocritical Care Center at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. You can request an appointment with Dr. DeGeorgia or any other doctor online.

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