Music: Improving Your Workout One Song At A Time

Oct 29, 2013

Written by: Brian Cardillo, General Manager, O2 Fitness Carrboro

You are walking on the treadmill, glance down and there is still 30 minutes left.  Now your mind starts to wander.

This is taking forever. I'm never going to finish. I'll just do 10 more minutes.

At that very moment, right before you were about to call it quits, that song starts to play through your headphones.  Not just any song but that song that turns your cardio routine into a rock show that gets your blood pumping, mind focused and nothing will come between you and your workout!

Music is an art form made up of 6 concepts:

  • duration
  • structure
  • dynamics
  • pitch
  • tone colour
  • texture

How it precisely relates to exercise is something we have yet to figure out.  Some theories even state that our body may respond to the beat of a song before our mind even tells it to do so.  For example, we will instinctively adjust our walking pace and heart rate to the tempo of the music. What we do know is that it does have a positive effect on our mind and body.  For example, when you listen to loud upbeat music, you'll generally receive an energizing effect.  Slower music will give off a calming sensation.

The Science Behind the Theory

In 2008, sports psychologist Costas Karageorghis explained how listening to music while working out can reduce your perception of how hard you are working by about 10% during low to moderate intensity activity.  Incredible!  Something that you cannot touch, taste, or feel but only hear can enhance your workout.  Even if it is only during low to moderate intensity activities, that is perfect for a dynamic warmup and a cool down phase.

Music and motivation go together like peas and carrots.

Yes, I just used an analogy from Forrest Gump.  Here's another movie reference: The Rocky theme “Gonna Fly Now” written by Bill Conti.  If you listen to that song during a run on the treadmill, there is no doubt you will be sprinting like Rocky Balboa by the 30 second mark.  Now put together a playlist of your favorite montage songs, and that will equal one intense motivating workout!  If you do not have the time to put together a playlist, let us do it for you by taking a Les Mills group exercise class.  Each class is specifically choreographed to the music.

We will all have those days where we are not excited about working out.  However, remember how a little bit of music can influence your workout.  Before you know it, you'll be on the way home humming that song that motivated you to finish strong.

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