Have you heard the phrase “Music makes the world go ’round?” Perhaps if you lived in a certain era you would have. This isn’t exactly a novel train of thought. In fact, it can be applied to many scenarios, including when it comes to exercise. If you think about it, it is also logical. Music has always been known to be able to evoke certain emotions, and of course out emotions affect our actions, right?
Before you think that I’m just making things up, what I say has been and can be backed up by research. Ask any athlete and they will tell you that listening to music can distract them from certain bodily discomforts while they are training. Logically, if this applies to those who perform at high levels, it can no doubt affect people like you and I.
Naturally, and not surprisingly, music with an upbeat tune can stimulate us to work harder. From personal experience, a music tracklist with high beats-per-minute (BPM) will make my legs crank the handles of the cycling machine with greater speed and ferocity. This is compared to say, a songlist of classic slow music.
The reason this happens is because it helps you keep pace. Scientists have shown that the rhythm of music during exercising can stimulate the motor area of the brain. This is then reflected in your bodily movement. Tuning in to these “time-signals” actually help your brain increase the efficiency of energy expenditure without overworking your body to the point that you instinctively stop putting in effort.
Back to the “distraction issue”, many gym users will tell you that the right track would put them “in the zone”, which is, of course a trance-like state where one only focuses on the music while the other limbs are exerting themselves. Some of it is also associated with one’s memory. There is a reason certain tracks, like “final countdown” and “eye of the tiger” work especially well.
Another reason to listen to music while working out, apart from increased physical exertion and calorie burning, is the fact that it will elevate your mood. While this happens in general, you should think of including it in your workout, which in itself puts you in a better mood by stimulating release of dopamine. Think about it as getting twice the reward for half the effort. Okay, maybe that was a little exaggerated.
So if you haven’t already, think about making a song list to listen to while exercising. There are many ways to go about it, but a good approach will be to get a set of headphones and MP3 player that is sweat-resistant and therefore suitable for exercising. Then hit up your legal (or otherwise) music tracks and simply whip up a list. All the best!
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Also published on Medium.
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