Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

The effect of self-selected music on endurance running capacity and performance in a mentally fatigued state

Hui Kwan Nicholas Lam, Harry Middleton, Shaun M. Phillips



We investigated the effects of listening to self-selected music on intermittent running capacity (study 1) and 5 km time-trial (TT) performance (study 2) in a mentally fatigued state. In study 1, nine physically active males performed a 30-minute incongruent Stroop test (IST) followed by the Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test level 1 (YYIRT1) with (MF+MUSIC) and without (MFONLY) music. They also completed a baseline trial (BL). Study 2 repeated these trials with nine recreational runners. Mental fatigue (MF) showed large increases following IST in both studies (dunb = 1.44 – 2.0). Intermittent running capacity was moderately greater in MF+MUSIC (564 ± 127 m; dunb = 0.52) and BL (551 ± 106 m; dunb = 0.51) vs. MFONLY (496 ± 112 m). Time-trial performance showed small improvements in MF+MUSIC (23.1 ± 2.4 min; dunb = 0.28) and BL (23.4 ± 3.5 min; dunb = 0.20) vs. MFONLY (24.1 ± 3.2 min). Differences in ratings of perceived exertion between trials were trivial to small in both studies (dunb = 0-0.47). Listening to self-selected music in a mentally fatigued state negates the negative impact of MF on endurance running capacity and performance, potentially due to altered perception of effort when listening to music.


Cognitive load; Mental fatigue; Running performance; Running capacity; Mental exertion; Perceived exertion; Sports performance


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