Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More About Digital Distraction

Following on from yesterday's blog about how digital input keeps us unfocused and might actually fatigue the brain, even while the body is resting, here is another New York Times article. It discusses a study that shows a direct relationship between auditory input and exercise. Volunteers on stationary bikes listened to music of their own choosing with headphones. During some rides, researchers played the songs at normal tempo. On other rides, they increased or decreased the tempos by 10 percent. Here's what they found:
When the tempo slowed, so did their pedaling and their entire affect. Their heart rates fell. Their mileage dropped. They reported that they didn’t like the music much. On the other hand, when the tempo of the songs was upped 10 percent, the men covered more miles in the same period of time, produced more power with each pedal stroke and increased their pedal cadences. Their heart rates rose. They reported enjoying the music — the same music — about 36 percent more than when it was slowed. But, paradoxically, they did not find the workout easier. Their sense of how hard they were working rose 2.4 percent. The up-tempo music didn’t mask the discomfort of the exercise. But it seemed to motivate them to push themselves. As the researchers wrote, when “the music was played faster, the participants chose to accept, and even prefer, a greater degree of effort.”
Again the take-home message from this little experiment? Do one thing at a time. That's all your brain can reasonably handle with any consistency.


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