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Workout Music

Posted by bmagnus On October - 26 - 2009

Maybe you’ve noticed that exercise can be easier with the right choice of music. Thankfully, MP3 players have made it very easy to bring your favorite workout music with you wherever you go. But while your personal choices might be made quickly and subjectively, scientists have spent over 20 years figuring out what it is about music, how and why music can help us at the gym, and exactly what sort of music will help us do our best.

The good news is that it’s not your imagination! Recent studies show that music can improve your oxygen consumption and endurance, and help you simply keep going. But why?

According to Dr Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University, the major factors in whether a particular piece of music is going to help you “bring it” are rhythm response, musicality, cultural impact and association. The rhythm and tempo are the most important factors — conveniently enough, both tempo and heart rate are measured in beats per minute; if you want to get your heart going, the music has to be moving along, too.

Other researchers have noticed other effects that music will have on your performance. Researchers from Liverpool John Moores University published a study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports showing that we do adjust our pace and effort level to match the music we are listening to.

If you want to experience for yourself what music can do, Dr. Karageorghis and Sony Music sponsor an annual half-marathon event called Run To The Beat. Can’t get to England for the event? Download the music for free. Be sure to check out the items under “training”, as there are a lot of good tips for any exercise, and runners in particular.

Her Take: Disclaimer, I have a degree in Music, so I have always used strategic music and silence. Yes, music can absolutely improve your performance! However, I cringe every time I see somebody running or cycling plugged into their headphones, completely oblivious to the world around them. Unless you are in a closed environment — a track, an area closed to traffic, an indoor facility — runners, hikers, and cyclists need to be aware of their surroundings. Never have your music so loud you can’t hear honking horns, someone shouting at you, or other things that could alert you to hazards. Performance is important, but safety comes first.

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