Many of us listen to music when we work out…and for good reason! Music is a great way to boost your body and mind so you can get the most out of your exercise session.
The main reason music is so helpful has to do with something called “preferred tempo.” The preferred tempo for different activities or moods is based on what your body needs at that moment. Whether you are looking to stimulate movement or promote relaxation, the tempo of the music you listen to can have a huge effect on how your body and mind function.
Don’t believe us? Keep reading to discover the best reasons to get your playlist ready the next time you’re lacing up your sneakers.
Pump You Up For Your Workout – This is a common practice among athletes. Maybe you’ve seen football players with their headphones on while they’re warming up. Listening to a song with a fast tempo gets you ready to move and compete. Your body actually wants to get moving.
We all experience days where getting motivated seems a little harder, but popping on your favorite up-beat song can make all the difference. Rock out for a few minutes and you’ll be ready to take on the world…or at least your workout.
Manage stress – When you are feeing stressed out or anxious, take a minute to listen to a song with a slow, peaceful melody. You will be able to feel your heart rate slow and your blood pressure lower. This just goes to show, music and pump your up or calm you down equally well.
Coordinate Your Muscle Movements – Whether you like to get your groove on or not, your body instinctively wants to move and will synchronize with the beat of music. This comes in really handy when you are exercising, as it actually causes your body’s movements to sync up.
For instance, if you are running, you will find your arms pumping to the same rhythm that your legs are following with each stride. Both of these happen based on the tempo of the music. You don’t need to consciously think about moving them with the beat…the music takes care of it for you.
Increase Your Performance – Listening to music has been shown to help you exercise for longer. A study performed at the University of Toronto found that music can have a major impact on the amount of time you can sustain a workout.
Participants in the study were placed into three groups: one without music, one with personalized songs, and a third with songs that contained RAS (rhythmic auditory stimulation). The songs with RAS essentially contained extra beats.
The participants whose music contained RAS were able to increase the length of their workout by up to 70%!
Your Body Uses Energy More Effectively – In addition, participants in the University of Toronto study experienced lower perceived effort. Even though they were increasing the length and intensity of their workout, the music still made it feel easier.
This means that their bodies were using their available energy more efficiently. When your body uses energy efficiently, you are able to increase your performance without increasing the perceived amount of work you’re doing.
Provide a Welcome Distraction – Depending on the type of athlete that you are, the distraction that music provides may be your best friend. Many of us find that when we are thinking about our workout it seems to take longer and become more difficult.
If this is the case for you, you are probably what is known as a dissociator. There are two types of athletes, associators and dissociators. Associators focus inwardly during their workouts and are just fine listening to their footsteps on the pavement or the sound of their breathing.
Dissociators are those of us that look for a distraction when we are working out. This is very common and a perfect way to use music to your advantage. Choosing music that not only distracts, but also fits your preferred tempo, means you can get a more productive workout.
Promote Relaxation and Recovery- Once you are done with your workout you need to take a few minutes to stretch and cool down. Music can help you with this too.
Choosing a slower song during your cool down will help your heart rate and breathing slow down. This will allow you to relax and focus on stretching properly and letting your body recover.
Keep You Motivated – Let’s face it, studies and science aside, some songs just make you feel like you can do anything. Make sure that you create a playlist of songs that make you feel powerful and strong. That feeling will translate to your workout and you’ll feel and see a difference in your results.
If you think that music during your workout is the right move for you, it’s easy to figure out which songs to use.
If you are walking or running, you want to count the number of steps that you take in one minute. This will roughly match the BPM (beats per minute) that you want to look for in a song.
According to The New York Times, songs for walkers will average 115-118 BPM, while runners should look for songs between 147-160 BPM. There are a variety of apps and programs that can generate and help you pick the right songs for you.
Next time you are getting ready for your workout, turn on some tunes and prepare yourself for a great workout. Once you’re done, keep those headphones in while you relax and enjoy your newest personal victory.
Synchronizing music to exercise: How the right tempo means a better workout. Laura Beeston; 2017
They’re Playing My Song. Time To Work Out. Steven Kuritz; 2008
The Best Music Apps for Running or Working Out. Jill Duffy; 2015