Music Alters Conscious Distance Monitoring without Changing Pacing and Performance during a Cycling Time Trial

Gustavo C. Vasconcelos*, Cayque Brietzke, Paulo Estevão Franco-Alvarenga, Florentina J. Hettinga, Flávio Oliveira Pires

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Downloads (Pure)


Athletes use their own perception to monitor distance and regulate their pace during exercise, avoiding premature fatigue before the endpoint. On the other hand, they may also listen to music while training and exercising. Given the potential role of music as a distractor, we verified if music influenced the athletes’ ability to monitor the distance covered during a 20-km cycling time trial (TT20km). We hypothesized that music would elongate cyclists’ perceived distance due to reduced attentional focus on exercise-derived signals, which would also change their ratings of perceived exertion (RPE). We also expected that the motivational role of music would also be beneficial in pacing and performance. After familiarization sessions, ten recreational cyclists performed an in-laboratory TT20km while either listening to music or not (control). They reported their RPE, associative thoughts to exercise (ATE), and motivation when they each perceived they had completed 2-km. Power output and heart rate (HR) were continuously recorded. Cyclists elongated their distance perception with music, increasing the distance covered for each perceived 2 km (p = 0.003). However, music reduced the error of conscious distance monitoring (p = 0.021), pushing the perceived distance towards the actual distance. Music increased the actual distance–RPE relationship (p = 0.004) and reduced ATE (p < 0.001). However, music affected neither performance assessed as mean power output (p = 0.564) and time (p = 0.524) nor psychophysiological responses such as HR (p = 0.066), RPE (p = 0.069), and motivation (p = 0.515). Cyclists elongated their distance perception during the TT20km and changed the actual distance–RPE relationship, which is likely due to a music-distractive effect. Although there was a reduced error of conscious distance monitoring, music affected neither pacing nor performance.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3890
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2023

Cite this