Got a rock and roll heart? Musicians get plenty of exercise during live gigs

fingers pluck strings of bass guitar

Exercise physiology graduate student Heather Vellers sought to find out how a musician’s body reacts during a live performance. Her research at Texas A&M chronicled heart rates during rehearsals and compared that to live performances in front of an audience.

Each artist wore a heart rate monitor before practice sessions and live performances. To determine any differences in responses among certain instruments, all band members wore the monitors. Factors taken into account included number of years playing in public, height and weight measurements and music tempo.

 “While in a ‘gig’ performance, we saw 60-85 percent of maximum heart rate among all musicians,” Vellers says. “What’s interesting is that number is in line with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommended heart rate during normal exercise.”

The data showed the same impact no matter what type of music or instrument played—all genres had similar effects on performers. And regardless of what type of instrument played—lead singer, saxophonist or drummer, all had the same max heart rate.

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