Revisiting the relationship between exercise heart rate and music tempo preference

Res Q Exerc Sport. 2011 Jun;82(2):274-84. doi: 10.1080/02701367.2011.10599755.


In the present study, we investigated a hypothesized quartic relationship (meaning three inflection points) between exercise heart rate (HR) and preferred music tempo. Initial theoretical predictions suggested a positive linear relationship (Iwanaga, 1995a, 1995b); however, recent experimental work has shown that as exercise HR increases, step changes and plateaus that punctuate the profile of music tempo preference may occur (Karageorghis, Jones, & Stuart, 2008). Tempi bands consisted of slow (95-100 bpm), medium (115-120 bpm), fast (135-140 bpm), and very fast (155-160 bpm) music. Twenty-eight active undergraduate students cycled at exercise intensities representing 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, and 90% of their maximal HR reserve while their music preference was assessed using a 10-point scale. The Exercise Intensity x Music Tempo interaction was significant, F(6.16, 160.05) = 7.08, p < .001, 7,2 = .21, as was the test for both cubic and quartic trajectories in the exercise HR-preferred-music-tempo relationship (p < .001). Whereas slow tempo music was not preferred at any exercise intensity, preference for fast tempo increased, relative to medium and very fast tempo music, as exercise intensity increased. The implications for the prescription of music in exercise and physical activity contexts are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Music / psychology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Young Adult