Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Physical Education and Exercise Science

Major Professor

Candi Ashley, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Marcus Kilpatrick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sara Flory, Ph.D.


Music Cadence, Running Velocity, Step Frequency, Step Length


Music appears to have advantageous effects during exercise as it has been shown to increase motivation, decrease ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), and improve exercise performance. The improvement of running performance in particular, is the main effect recreational runners want to focus on as many want to improve their time in road races. Running velocity, indicated by a faster time to completion is thought to improve with an increase in step frequency, step length, or a combination of these variables. Currently, there is limited research that observes methods to help increase step frequency or step length. The manipulation of music cadence may be considered an effective training method that influences step frequency. The purpose of this study was to observe the effect of music cadence on step frequency in the recreational runner.

A total of 30 recreational runners (15 male, 15 female) with a mean age of 31.0 ± 5.8 (range= 20-39), a BMI of 24.0 ± 3.3 (range= 19-32), and an estimated VO2 max of 49.6 ± 5.4 (range= 41-60) participated in this study. Individually, runners completed four 1600-meter time trials on an outdoor track at maximal effort. The first trial was a familiarization trial where participants ran 1600 meters with no music. Two music conditions were then created for each runner based on their natural step frequency obtained during the familiarization trial. The first condition represented music at natural step cadence and the second condition represented music at increased step cadence. The next three 1600 meter time trials were randomized and included a control condition of no music, a natural cadence music condition at the runner's natural step frequency, and an increased cadence music condition of 10-20 beats per minute (bpm) above the natural cadence music condition.

Results indicated that step frequency was significantly higher during the increased cadence music condition compared to both the natural cadence music and no music conditions (p < 0.05). Additionally, time to completion was significantly lower in the increased cadence music condition compared to both the natural cadence music and no music conditions (p < 0.05). Lastly, there was no significant difference in step length among music conditions. These results indicate that music cadence had a positive influence on running performance as it was able to increase step frequency and improve time to completion in a group of recreational runners. Therefore, for practical application, recreational runners can alter music cadence to help improve running performance.

Included in

Kinesiology Commons