If you go to any gym these days (perish the thought), chances are you will see that the vast majority of people are wearing headphones. And while most people may think that listening to music while exercising is great for passing time and breaking up the boredom, it actually has a much stronger effect that few are aware of.
Listening to music during exercise can have multiple performance benefits and can give you that extra boost you sometimes need.
In fact, music can be so powerful that wearing headphones and using mobile music devices was banned by the national governing body for running, USA Track & Field, because of the competitive advantage it gives runners.
Music – A Legal Drug?
In a 2012 review, Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University in London, one of the world’s leading experts on the psychology of exercise music, wrote that one could think of music as “a type of legal performance-enhancing drug.” He also stated that music can reduce the perception of effort significantly and increase endurance by as much as 15 percent.
Music distracts you from pain and fatigue, elevates your mood, increases endurance, and reduces perceived effort. When listening to music, you will run farther, cycle longer and swim faster than usual – often without realizing it.
Music and Memories
Think back to a special occasion in your life. Maybe it’s the sentimental song that was played over the loudspeakers during your high school graduation, or your first baseball game where everyone was chanting “we will rock you” and you became totally immersed in the cheer. Or maybe it’s your wedding song, which touched your heart and will forever be ingrained in your mind.
Music takes us back to that time and allows us to live in that moment again. Many of these memories stir up very strong emotions which we can harness to motivate ourselves. I will often listen to 90s alternative rock because it reminds me of my twenties and a time when I was carefree and looking and feeling my best.
Now think of a time when you were on top of your game. Think of the music that you surrounded yourself with at that time. You may be able to identify with the lyrics or the meaning behind a particular song or genre of music.
What’s Your Favorite Music?
I have been exercising for the last 20+ years and can say with all honesty that listening to music while I train improves everything from my stamina to strength and motivation. I also happen to be a heavy metal fan and when I hear the primordial, rudimentary riffs from old school Metallica blaring through my earbuds, my heart races and adrenaline pumps through my veins.
Now tell me that’s not a great way to work out! And if you are taking the time out of your day to exercise anyway, why not get the absolute most from it?
Regardless of the type of music you prefer, you can use it to improve your performance and get more out of your workout. And who doesn’t want that?
In a recent survey, it was shown that the most popular types of music for working out were hip hop and rock. Also, people tend to exercise on pace with the speed of the music they are listening to. It was shown that songs ranging from 125 and 140 beats per minute were most beneficial to exercisers. Creating a playlist of songs in a tempo that matches the pace of your exercise may sound a little geeky, but you’d be amazed at how much it benefits.
But regardless of what science tells us about the best type of music to listen to in the gym, just remember that any music can be beneficial and if you’re not currently tuned in at the gym.
I suggest giving it a try – you never know the impact it might have.