Walk into the gym…@^$^%#!!!! I left my headphones in the car. How will I work out without my favorite gym playlist? Ugh, do I really have to go back to the car? Yes. I need to listen to music to work out.
It’s no secret that athletes enjoy listening to music while practicing or exercising. To my surprise, they are not just being prima donnas or showing off their complimentary Beats by Dr. Dre; there is hard scientific evidence that backs the positive effects of music on exercise.
Exercising to music may not be attributed to popular ‘80s group workouts but to the ancient Chinese practice of dragon boating. Situated in the front of the boat, a drummer rhythmically beats in sync with each row. This was to mimic the heartbeat of the dragon, and it set the pace of the competition within each boat.
Studies show that listening to music while running or lifting weights induces a copycat effect on athletes. By keeping up with the beat of a song, pacing is often enhanced and stabilized.
Not only does music offer us a beat to work out to, but it distracts us. We are all guilty of watching the seconds tick by on the treadmill while we huff and puff. However, adding the diversion of your favorite song keeps your mind off of the monotonous stepping/pedaling.
Because music distracts us from our work out, it seems like less effort is needed. If one can escape into a song, our recognition of effort plummets. According to Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D., of Brunel University School of Sport and Education in London, exercising with music “can reduce the perception of effort significantly and increase endurance by as much as 15 percent.”
The distraction music provides is also evident in my own personal experiences in volleyball. Those fast tempo and high energy songs pumped up the entire team and prepared us for the game to come. Karageorghis claims, “Music is a legal drug for athletes.”
Coaches often blast music at practice as preparation for noisy stadiums or during weight lifting as motivation. Karageorghis advises listening to music at the end of a workout or run “when you really need a boost.”
Music motivates athletes to complete a workout or “go harder.” Brock Pyper, senior and Leesville football player, said, “It blocks out any distractions around me; it really helps me focus.”
Music’s pace during a workout dictates that of the body. Running to classical music would not produce the same results as a faster-paced rock song. Similarly in yoga, a hard rap song would not be fitting because of the nature of the activity.
Pyper’s music of choice is either rock or rap. “When I lift, I wanna get pumped. I get angrier when I listen to rock or rap, so that makes lifting a little more exciting,” said Pyper.
Below are some suggestions of songs based on specific activities and their average target heart rates. Their beats per minute will induce similar heart rates, if the tempo of the songs are followed during exercise.
Walking 140 beats per minute
Running 170 BPM
“Lose Yourself”- Eminem
Cycling 150 BPM