The power of music while exercising
29th December 2016
Feature image photo credit: @potter_natt
You’ve got the high tech running shoes, the moisture wicking sportswear and the gym membership, now you just need the tunes to match. Many of us compile a playlist made up of our favourite upbeat songs. Whether you’re into hip hop or prefer a brand new dance track, the music you listen to has a real influence on your performance.
Music’s emotive power can help increase our endurance and give a boost when we really need it. We’ve all thought we couldn’t go on near the end of that 45-minute spin class but then the beat drops and we somehow find a new lease of energy.
Athletes and music
At the 2016 Olympics, many of the athletes confirmed that they have special playlists they listen to in order to pump up for the main event. R&B tunes with strong beats were the preferable choice, so take inspiration from this and crack on some Drake or a bit of old school noughties hits before you step on the treadmill.
Music and distraction techniques
Dissociation and music while exercising is strongly linked. A song can take our attention away from those common feelings of fatigue, which could enable us to push ourselves further than before. Don’t believe us? Have you ever forgot your headphones on a run? We bet you didn’t make it nearly as far had you brought them along with.
A fast paced dance track is great when pounding the pavement to push you to go faster and dissociate you from any fatigue you may be feeling. A song with a strong beat is perfect for timing pace to and a spurt of energy can always be found when the beat drops. When lifting weights, it’s all about the melody so you can get revved up and ready to go.
Music and emotions
Music has a strong effect on our emotions. Getting ready to go to the gym or about to head off for a run? Play one of your favourites songs for some positive energy and you’ll find you’ll feel more motivated for your session.
Music even has a power once the workout is over. Listening to a low tempo track when you’re finished can help lower your heart rate and relax you. This encourages the healing process for all those muscles you’ve worked.
Tips for listening to music while working out
Smartphones are ideal for taking with you when exercising, and there are plenty of arm bands with pockets to hold your device so you can be hands free. Bluetooth and wireless headphones are also popular among those who exercise regularly, as they remove cumbersome wires and give you true freedom of movement.
Be sure to set up a playlist before you start. Use a streaming service such as Spotify or Deezer for full access to the latest tracks and put together a set of songs that will last as long as you intend to work out for. You could even set yourself a challenge to not stop until the playlist ends, for some extra motivation. Don’t forget to mix up your tracks every now and then too because listening to the same music over and over can get monotonous, shake things up regularly to give yourself a boost.
Finally, avoid listening to your music at full volume, you don’t want to damage your ears and it can also hinder your awareness of what is going on around you, which could leave you vulnerable to injury especially if you’re exercising outside.
Pairing music and exercise
When it comes to pairing a music genre with a type of exercise, only certain ones will do. Here’s a quick run down of what works best:
- Cardio (running, cycling, rowing) – a fast paced, dance track is ideal for setting a pace and distracting you from sore muscles or feelings of tiredness.
- Weightlifting – a grime track with a strong beat is great for getting you ready to lift those heavy weights.
- Team sports – try an R&B track with plenty of inspirational lyrics to get you pumped before a game.
- Yoga – calming music with minimal singing is a good choice, so you can focus completely on your form.