In my last post, I sang the the praises of listening to music while exercising:
First, because music distracts you, you are less likely to focus on the difficult work your body is doing. As a result, you are much more likely to have a longer workout. Another benefit of playing music during your workout is that the right kind of songs, the ones that offer an inspiring message (think “Eye of the Tiger” or “Walking on Sunshine”), can keep you in a positive mindset. Uplifting tunes can cause you to push harder during a workout by reducing your perceived exertion during the most challenging/exhausting/painful moments of your session.
So, lucky for us, the end result is less perceived pain and a longer workout. Dr. Costas Karageorghis of London’s Brunel University told TIME Magazine that listening to music while working out can improve endurance by close to 20 percent.
Karageorghis also explained how to choose the best workout music. You should choose a song that builds to the same beats per minute (BPM) as your target heart rate, with the target rate being somewhere between 120-140 BPM.
I have put together a list of 6 pop and country songs that I think are perfect for working out. I hope they provide you with tons of inspiration and energy as you try to build a better you.
“Shake It Off” – Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift’s feel-good hit “Shake It Off” not only told off the haters of the world, it also completed the young singer’s metamorphosis from country darling to pop superstar. Keep that radical transformation in mind as you look to change your physical health and appearance.
“Dancing in the Dark” – Bruce Springsteen
If you’ve ever spent your time on a treadmill imagining yourself in a music video, you’ve probably pictured a scenario similar to the video for Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark.” In it the Boss pulls out of the audience a young lady who is fortunate enough to join Bruce onstage. Couple the fantasy of such an experience with the song’s heightened sense of urgency (“I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face!”), and you have the ultimate workout song.
“One Way or Another” – Blondie
Blondie’s “One Way or Another” is a catchy and energetic song that possesses the perfect amount of hook and attitude. Debbie Harry and her band of hip new wavers demonstrate the type of indomitable spirit and personal resolve that should inspire you to work out harder and longer.
“Let Your Love Flow” – The Bellamy Brothers
The Bellamy Brothers may not have known it when they were writing it, but their hit “Let Your Love Flow” does wonders for the soul in need of a quick pick-me-up. With lyrics like these, how can you not feel inspired?
There’s a reason for the sunshine sky
And there’s a reason why I’m feelin’ so high
Must be the season when that love light shines
All around us
“Crazy Little Thing Called Love” – Queen
What could possibly be more uplifting than Queen’s Freddie Mercury channeling the swagger of Elvis Presley? Well, that’s exactly what you get with Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” This is perhaps the most feel-good song on my list, as its infectious beat and rockabilly sound are sure to provide you with all the positive vibes you’ll need to make your way through even the most difficult workout.
“Maniac” – Michael Sembello
Are you one of those people who can’t wait to go to the gym? Or are you the type of person who can’t wait to leave the gym? Regardless of your feelings on exercise, it is more obvious than ever that music and exercise are pretty much a perfect fit. In fact, including music into your routine has been proven to increase the efficiency of your workout.
There are some folks who can seemingly run for hours in complete silence. I am most definitely not one of them. If you’re like me, you probably can’t even begin working out without blasting some tunes. I need a sonic distraction, something upbeat to take my mind off the repetitive and sometimes painful nature of exercise.
I used to think that the exercisers who preferred silence were kind of crazy, but it turns out that this is because there are actually two distinct kinds of workout personalities.
The first type, associators, turn all of their attention inward while they are exercising. They prefer to focus on things like their form, heart rate, and breathing.
Dissociators, meanwhile, turn their focus to anything that can distract them from the hard work their body is doing, be it a book, television, or in my case, a steady stream of music.
If you think you might be a dissociator, welcome to the club. There are several reasons why music might be your best choice for a better workout.
First, because music distracts you, you are less likely to focus on the difficult (and sometimes tortuous) work your body is doing. As a result, you are much more likely to have a longer workout. My preference is music with high beats per minute, or BPM. This will help you as you try to maintain a more rigorous workout by keeping a faster pace.
Another benefit of playing music during your workout is that the right kind of songs, the ones that offer an inspiring message (think “Eye of the Tiger” or “Walking on Sunshine”), can keep you in a positive mindset.
It is scientifically proven that uplifting tunes can cause you to push harder during a workout by reducing your perceived exertion during the most challenging/exhausting/painful moments of your session.
In short, the right songs can make you not physically feel all the negative things you might associate with working out, thus allowing you to last longer.
Less perceived pain AND a longer workout? That is all I need to know to convince me that my iPod will always be joining me as I prepare to exercise.
Stay tuned for my next post, in which I’ll discuss some of my favorite workout songs.