10 Reasons You Should Always Exercise with Music
Can’t workout without listening to music? You’re not alone, and you’re probably healthier as a result. Read on for the benefits of workout music
You’ll work harder
Feel an extra pep in your step when your favourite tune comes on? There’s a reason for that: Music influences you to run farther, bike longer and swim faster – often without you even realizing it. Indeed, “Music is like a legal drug for athletes,” Costas Karageorghis of London’s Brunel University School of Sport and Education said in an article posted on acefitness.org. “It can reduce the perception of effort significantly and increase endurance by as much as 15 percent.”
Exercise becomes fun
A killer playlist can transform your workout from mundane to something you actually look forward to. Try the TomTom Spark Music Plus Cardio ($299 at bestbuy.ca). It’s a wearable fitness watch that also includes 3GB of storage, and holds about 500 songs. Simply connect the device to your wireless earbuds via Bluetooth and you’re all set for hours of playlist (and fitness) fun.
In a 2013 study from McGill University, researchers wrote: “Music listening reportedly lowers requirements for opiate drugs in postoperative pain.” While music isn’t a substitute for medication to manage chronic pain, it may distract you from normal aches or pains during exercise. Therefore, you’re more likely to push through and complete your workout.
You’ll naturally boost happiness
Music naturally boosts dopamine, the neurotransmitter that drives your brain’s reward system. Listening to music during a workout can give you a hit of dopamine – resulting in feelings of well-being. At the same time, exercise boosts serotonin (a mood-boosting neurotransmitter) so the combination will do wonders for your happy hormones.
Reduce stress and anxiety
Listening to the right music during a stretch or yoga class (think slow tempo and soft or no lyrics) can help you wind down and carry the relaxing benefits with you through the rest of your day. And, according to a 2013 review published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, listening to music can reduce stress levels.
You’ll improve as a runner
Sync your run to an upbeat playlist and you’ll stay on pace and even improve your endurance. Songs with 140-160 bpm are optimal for running. Songza even has a feature to help you match the tempo of your workout music to your running pace. According to an article in Scientific American, music can act as a metronome, “helping someone maintain a steady pace, reducing false steps and decreasing energy expenditure.”
Great lyrics are motivating
For many people, music can make the difference between a great workout and no workout at all. And some songs stand the test of time for their power to motivate. (Rocky theme song, anyone?)
Take a look at these lyrics as examples:
“You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine/Just own the night like the fourth of July/’Cause baby, you’re a firework/Come on, show ’em what you’re worth” – Firework by Katy Perry
“I set my eyes to the west, walking away from it all/Reaching for what lies ahead, I got my eye on it/I see my sweat hit the ground/I put my feet in the block/This is the race of my life/And I can’t wait for his shot/I’ve got my eye on the prize and I will not quit” – Eye On It by Toby Mac
And my personal favourite…
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger/Stand a little taller/Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone/What doesn’t kill you makes you fighter/Footsteps even lighter/Doesn’t mean I’m over ’cause you’re gone” – Stronger by Kelly Clarkson
An hour-long workout can seem never-ending, but when you break it down by song it’s a lot easier to handle. Think about it this way: A 60-minute workout is really just 15 of your favourite songs (if each one is roughly 4 minutes in length). That’s basically one album! (Both Adele’s 25 and Taylor Swift’s 1989 run at just under 50 minutes in length.)
You’re also exercising your brain
You’re giving your body a workout, so why not engage your brain at the same time? “Musical activity involves nearly every region of the brain that we know about, and nearly every neural subsystem,” writes professor Daniel J. Levitin in his book This Is Your Brain On Music. Part of your brain decodes pitch and tempo while other parts are stimulated by lyrics.