If you like listening to music while you exercise, you might be surprised at how important it can be to helping you fight through fatigue. The right song, played at the right tempo, can make a huge difference for a lot of people. Tony Horton believes a good BPM playlist might be just the thing you need to get you through your workout.
Here’s a look at the profound effect your iTunes library or your Spotify playlist can have on your exercise routine, as well as some information on how to choose the workout songs that are best for your specific regimen.
Build the Right Workout Playlist: How Can The Right Music Playlist Help With Your Exercise Routine?
There is solid scientific evidence that music can provide powerful benefits for people engaging in a wide range of exercise routines. It not only helps during a workout, it also has an effect before and afterward. Pre-workout, music can get you pumped up. Post-workout, it can help you feel re-energized – both physically and mentally.1
It’s hard to underestimate just how critical music can be when it comes to exercising. High-tempo music – music that runs at 170 BPM (beats per minute) – may help reduce the perception of effort. It also appears to deliver greater cardiovascular benefits than working out to music at a lower tempo.2
According to research, people who listen to high-tempo music as they exercise have higher endurance levels and a higher heart rate as they work out. It appears that this kind of music is most effective for those performing endurance exercises, including speed walking and high-intensity interval training.3
How Can Music Contribute To Your Daily Workout? Can It Help To Motivate You?
So, you know music can have a major effect on your exercise regimen. But how does music perform its magic? A lot of it appears to do with how the body functions.
Your body is an incredibly vigilant monitor. It is constantly scanning itself to make sure everything is working as it should. When you exercise for a certain period of time, you start to feel fatigued. Because your body notices things such as an increased heart rate, sweat production, and lactic acid in the muscles, there comes a point where it believes you need a break.4
But music can provide the distraction your body needs in order to keep going. In a way, it “competes” with your body’s fatigue signals in an effort to get your brain’s attention. If your brain is more focused on the music (rather than how tired you’re getting), that may help you exercise longer. That’s why it’s easier for many people to push through those reps than it would be if they weren’t listening to music.5
In general, music has potent emotional – and even physiological – effects. It can change the way you feel and even the way you behave. Whether you like hip hop, electronica, funk, or anything else, listening to music you love can stimulate the production of the “feel good” hormone serotonin. It’s possible that listening to music you love while working out can boost serotonin. This, in turn, can make you feel better about your workout routine.6
Other Ways Music Can Boost Your Workout Performance
Music can potentially help your exercise routine in a lot of other ways as well. Here are just a few.
- Motivation – Good music can help get you started on days where you might not otherwise want to do anything. According to one study, music might help you not only begin a run, but it may also keep you going until you finish.7
- Fun – Working out to music you love makes your routine more fun. According to one study, researchers found that people had a better time working out while listening to music when compared to exercising while watching a video with the sound muted.8
- Coordination – There’s even evidence that music can help you become better coordinated. It appears that music stimulates electrical activity in the area of the brain that controls coordination.9
What’s The Best Tempo For Working Out On An Exercise Bike Or A Treadmill?
If you prefer working out at home, music may give you quite a boost, too. Two of the more popular pieces of home exercise equipment are exercise bikes and treadmills. Researchers looked at each of these types of workouts and found that certain music tempos tend to increase their effectiveness.
One study found that the best tempo for cycling is between 125 and 140 BPM. When it comes to running on a treadmill, the best BPM seems to be in the 123-131 BPM range.10,11
Why the slight difference? It might involve pacing. The pace on an exercise bike is typically different from that of a treadmill. As a result, different tempos of music are needed in order to get the best performance possible.12
Music for Runners: Try This Great Running Playlist to Help You Along Your Exercise Journeys
As you learned earlier, different types of tempo tend to work better for some exercises than others. Whether you jog around a track or around the neighborhood, what’s the tempo that will work best for your exercise of choice? There’s no “one size fits all” answer to that question, because everyone is different.
In general, the tempo that works best will typically depend on the intensity of your run. If you’re on a long-distance run, one where you need to pace yourself, consider building a workout playlist of songs that are in the range of 120-140 BPM. If you are more the sprinter type, one who primarily engages in shorter, more intense runs, look for running music between the 147-160 BPM range.13
Again, though, it’s all about finding the right playlist of running songs that will work best for you. When considering running music, try this experiment.
- Take a 15-minute run at a comfortable pace.
- Count your steps for the first minute of that run.
- After a few minutes, count your steps again for one minute.
- Once you get an average of the steps per minute you take, then you’ll have zeroed in on the best BPM for your pace.14
Give this playlist a try. You might just find it’s the perfect music to help you get the most out of your run:
More Workout Songs: Can Dance Music Help To Get You Moving More?
Again, there’s no one answer when considering what kind of music will be best for the type of exercise you like to do. However, there is some evidence that music with energizing rhythms, such as dance music, tends to help boost performance. Rhythmic patterns that match movement patterns are typically very effective. Uplifting, inspiring harmonies also seem to work very well.15
Have Fun, But Be Smart
Hopefully, you have more of an appreciation of just how important workout songs can be to your exercise routine. Whether you like songs with a powerful drum beat, high-energy music, or anything else, it can really help you power through your regimen.
But don’t immediately start playing high-tempo music in order to test your limits without speaking with a doctor first. If you’re looking up to ramp up your workout, you should first make sure it will be safe for you to do so.