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The Effect of Music- and Video-Distraction on High School Physical Education Student Exercise Intensity

Kelsey Higginson, David Barney, Keven Prusak, Carol Wilkinson


This study investigated the relationship between use of distractions during exercise and (a) heart rate (HR), (b) rating of perceived exertion (RPE), and (c) enjoyment during exercise. Quasi-experimental design with six intact, single-gender high school classes was used. A control group experienced no distraction, while a treatment group first experienced no distraction, followed by 2 days each of listening to music and of watching a movie. HR was collected continuously in real time and RPE and enjoyment at 5-min intervals. In the treatment group, HR and RPE were not different between no distraction and music conditions but decreased while watching a film. The control group also decreased in the same measures during the third condition. No differences were seen in enjoyment. While various distractions may work in fitness settings, in the PE setting distractions in and of themselves are insufficient and cannot replace quality pedagogy and an engaging teacher. One cannot simply turn on the music or video and leave students to their own devices. Future research needs to investigate distraction use in combination with good pedagogy, engaging instruction, and the impact of sociality in physical education.

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music; movies; adolescents; exercise

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