Use Music to Boost Your Exercise Intensity

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Sometimes the simplest solution is the best. When you hit a wall mid-workout, look no further than your playlist. Research by the American Council on Exercise shows that music is both a welcomed distraction and a major motivator that can help you go harder, faster, and longer.

You already know that good music makes your workout that much more enjoyable, but does it have any true effect on your performance?

According to a study from Brunel University, music can increase your endurance up to 15%; however, the research, found that only certain music genres boost your workout and songs should ideally be between 120 and 140 beats per minute to maximize the results.

“Music is like a legal drug for athletes,” says Costas Karageorgis, Ph.D, the man who conducted the research at Brunel. “It can reduce the perception of effort significantly.”

Over the past 20 years of research, Karageorghis has identified three primary things about music that could possibly influence exercise performance:

  • The tendency to move in time with synchronous sounds (e.g., tapping your toe in time with music or the beat of a drum)
  • The tendency of music to increase effort (e.g., the desire to move rather than to sit)
  • The tendency for music to distract the exerciser from discomfort that might be related to exercise

Both studies show that by listening to music, people tend to enjoy exercise more because they focus less on their breathing and perceive it to be less stressful. Music can encourage people to work harder.

So when you’re feeling tired, blast your “power song,” the track that can’t help but make you feel invincible.

Build Your Playlist:

When you’re deciding on the best songs to put on your new workout playlist, it is important to find those that have a distinct rhythm. The stronger and more obvious the beat is, the more likely you will be to follow it. Also look for an appropriate tempo/beats-per-minute for your activity. The song’s beats-per-minute should correspond to the heart rate you’d hope to have during the workout.

Power walking:

Approximately 137–139 bpm

Running:

Approximately147–169 bpm

Cycling:

Approximately 135–170 bpm

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