Using beat frequency in music to adjust running cadence in recreational runners: a randomized multiple baseline design

Mark Te Brake, Niki Stolwijk, Bart Staal, Bas Van Hooren*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Running with music has been shown to acutely change cadence. However, it is unclear if the increased cadence remains long-term when running without music in an in-field situation. The aim of this 12-week study was to investigate the effect of a 4-week music running program on cadence, speed and heartrate during and after the music running program. Seven recreational runners with a cadence of <170 steps per minute were randomly assigned to a baseline and post-intervention period of different durations. During the intervention phase, the participants ran with a musical beat that was 7.5-10% higher than their mean cadence at the start of the study. Cadence, heartrate and running speed were measured twice a week during a 5-kilometer run with a watch, and were analyzed using randomization tests and visual data inspection. Two participants dropped-out due to shortage of time (n = 1) and an acute calf injury (n = 1). Cadence significantly increased during the intervention period (+8.5%), and remained elevated during the post-intervention period (+7.9% (p = .001)) in comparison with the baseline period. Heartrate and running speed did not significantly change during any period. This study among five participants shows that four weeks of running with a musical beat that is 7.5-10% higher than the preferred cadence may be an effective and feasible intervention to increase running cadence. Importantly, the increased cadence occurred without simultaneous increases in running speed and heartrate, hereby potentially reducing mechanical loading without increasing metabolic load.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-354
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Sport Science
Issue number3
Early online date1 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2023


  • Endurance
  • injury & prevention
  • performance
  • technology
  • training


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