Michael Phelps allegedly listens to Lil’ Wayne, Gabby Douglas prefers Jay-Z, and Misty May-Treanor credits David Guetta as her pregame pump-up artist. Similar to these superstars, we all have our own personal music preferences to help push us through a grueling workout. It is no surprise that music plays an integral part in exercise. But how exactly does music motivate us? Read these tips to understand the benefits of listening to music while working out, and how to craft your own motivational running playlist that will be the best running playlist for you!
Get pumped up physically
According to Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D. from London’s Brunel University, music serves a dual purpose during exercise – to increase arousal, as well as to distract you from the difficulty of exertion. Think about it -– if you are focused on the lyrics or the beat of a song you will be less likely to focus on the difficulty of your breathing or your negative thoughts about exercising. With a lower perceived exertion, your body is able to work out that much longer! Listening to music before and during exercise has also been found to increase both your respiration and heart rate, prepping your body for a difficult workout.
Feel the beat
The most important thing about the music you choose for your playlist is not the genre or the lyrics, but the beat. A song with a prominent and steady beat allows you to fall into step with the song, and helps to maintain a consistent pace. “Everything is Alright” by Motion City Soundtrack is a personal favorite because the upbeat percussion is prominent and consistent from beginning to end.
By tailoring the pace of the song to the intended pace of your workout, you can optimize results. It all has to do with the beats per minute (BPM) of a song, with an average runner clocking anywhere between 150-170 BPM. When the BPM of the song matches the BPM of your run, your workout becomes almost mechanical. Jog.fm is an awesome website where you can enter your intended mile time to create a playlist of songs with a matching BPM. For example, if you want to run an 8:00 minute mile, you should listen to songs around 172 BPM, like M.I.A’s Paper Planes or Eminem’s Lose Yourself.
Choose the songs that inspire you
Science aside, we all have songs that hold particular meaning for us. Whether it be a song that conjures up positive thoughts, or one that lights a fire inside of us, it's all about personal preference. Whenever I hear “Remember the Name” by Fort Minor I feel an immediate push to go that much faster or that much farther. The important thing is to recognize your personal trigger songs, and add them to your playlist immediately.
End on a high note
For track star LoLo Jones, “Relax, Take It Easy” by Mika always concludes her workout, because it helps her to let go of negative thoughts and end the run on a high note. Always make sure to end your workout with a “feel good” song. By building positive associations with working out, you’ll be that much more likely to do it again tomorrow!
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Header image credit: zingersb, http://www.flickr.com/photos/zingersb/2633484569/sizes/z/