The American study included 24 people with serious lung disease. They were divided into two groups of 12. One group listened to music while walking, and the control group walked without music.
The people who listened to music while walking covered an average of 19 total miles over the eight-week study, compared to an average of 15 total miles for the control group. That's a average distance difference of 21 percent.
At several points in the study, the participants were timed to see how far they could walk in six minutes. By the end of the study, the people who listened to music increased the average distance they covered in six minutes by 445 feet (136 meters), while the non-music group had an average decrease of 169 feet (51 meters).
The people in the music group were given a portable audiocassette player and two audio cassettes with country/western, classical, pop/Motown and big band music.
As well as improving their walking performance, the people in the music group also reported they had less trouble with shortness of breath while doing routine activities such as bathing, combing their hair and cooking meals. The non-music group didn't report any changes in their breathing.
The findings suggest music may help distract people with serious lung disease from some physical symptoms of the disease while they exercise.
Here's more about how anyone can benefit from walking.