Don’t forget those headphones! Music improves your workout in ways you probably never even considered.
Have you ever watched a toddler’s spontaneous response to music? They hear a song and start moving right along to the beat!
As adults, we’re no different. Fast, upbeat music prompts an innate urge within us to move, so it should come as no surprise that music has the power to enhance our workout.
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In fact, a few years ago, USA Track & Field officially recognized that music gave athletes a competitive edge. As a result, they banned athletes from using music in races where awards or money were at stake. Today, many athletes view music as “essential to peak performance” when exercising or competing in a sport. (1)
Get those tunes pumping, because we’ve got 12 proven ways to show you that music can make your workouts better than ever.
Provides a Satisfying Workout
Music improves your workout simply because music is one of the great pleasures of life. Listen to your favorite high-energy songs as you move through your exercise routine for a more pleasurable experience.
Distracts You from Discomfort
While we may discredit the “no pain, no gain” mantra, there’s no arguing that exercise stresses out the body in order to achieve results. Music improves your workout by taking your mind off any pain or discomfort you may experience while exercising.
Music is connected to emotions and can stimulate a greater performance. When you create your own motivational playlist, expect your endurance to rise!
Your frame of mind is everything when it comes to your physical performance, whether you’re competing in sports or simply exercising to stay fit. Music can lift your spirits, give you a positive mental attitude and put a spring in your step. Beat or tempo, positive lyrics, and any memories or associations you have with a particular song are all important factors in elevating your mood.
Maximizes Your Effort
There’s also a tricky factor at play: Music gives the perception that you’re putting out less effort to accomplish more in your workout. That’s because the distraction of the music increases pleasure while distracts from pain, helping you reach that finish line with seemingly less effort.
Oxygenates Your Blood
In a study involving cyclists, researchers measured oxygen levels in their blood. They found that when cyclists pedaled in cadence to music, they required 7 percent less oxygen to perform at the same level as those who did not listen to music. (2)
Gives You Encouragement
When your efficiency and endurance is high, why stop? A great playlist can be just the thing you need to pump you up to work out – and keep you in the zone.
Sets the Pace
When you choose music with a high tempo, you can sync your body to it in your workout to help you keep an even pace. Setting a strong cadence while running, biking, or doing any other rhythmic exercise will help keep you efficient and consistent.
While this may seem like a bold claim, researchers discovered that listening to the right music actually can increase your strength. They conducted a “grip” test and alternated stimulating, energetic music with sedating, relaxing music. When listening to the energetic music, subjects demonstrated significantly higher strength scores. (3)
Promotes Post-Workout Recovery
Keep the music going in your cool-down. Here’s why: one study found that listening to music after a hard workout took more steps during recovery and recorded lower perceived exertion scores. (4)
Even your motor skills can be improved with a few good tunes. Swiss researchers discovered that an exercise program combined with music improves gait, balance and coordination among seniors and those rehabilitating from injuries. One of the strong elements of music in these improvements is the rhythmic beat and the connection between the brain and motor skills. (5)
Speeds Reaction Times
Music improves your workout by quickening your response time. One study showed that music with a fast beat stimulated the emotional state of the athletes and promoted quicker reaction times. (6)
Tips for Putting it All Together
The impact of music on the brain and its influence on our mood, stress, response, and other factors is pretty amazing!
When you’re building that workout playlist, look for music that meets these criteria:
- Has a strong, invigorating beat (about 120 – 160 bmp for a more intense workout)
- Features upbeat, positive lyrics and a stimulating melody
- Offers a rhythm that syncs well with your activity
- Satisfies your personal tastes
Need more help finding the right songs? Here are several sites that offer workout music mixes:
Or you can put together your own workout playlist by going to Song bpm to determine the beats per minute of your favorite songs. Remember to look for songs that are 120 – 160 beats per minute for the harder parts of your workout – it can be less for the warm-up and cool down.
The Bottom Line
Music improves your workout, plain and simple. A good playlist adds an element of pure enjoyment and stimulation to put you in the mood to work out, while providing you with at least a dozen benefits! What’s on your playlist?
Don’t let your favorite songs take up too much space on your phone! You’ll want to make room for these Top 11 Fitness Apps that make exercising fun.