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Exercise to the Beat

By: Jiecel RamirezExercise to the Beat

We listen to music for countless reasons. Mine is to stay focused whenever I jog as part of my daily sweat session. There was never a time I left the house without a phone and a pair of headphones with me. Pressing the play button of my soundtrack at the same time my feet start to do the drill is a habit that's hard to break from my fitness routine.

Jogging to the rhythm of my favorite songs makes tedious road runs easier and more enjoyable, leaving me less weary as if I hadn’t worked as hard each time.

In a survey conducted by Runner's World, 74% of 11,328 respondents prefer the idea of listening to music when going out for a series of runs. Participants find it enthralling to run while hearing some fine tunes on the road.

Over the years, music has been intertwined with performance in physical activity. While several studies suggest that working out with music draws away exercisers from their extreme efforts, there's more to rocking out your motivational gym playlist than just being a distraction.

Here are the pros of hyping up to your favorite tunes while staying in shape.

1. Music boosts your workout performance.

Exercise and music, when they go together, can increase endurance and reduce exertion. Playing a song in the background while beating that punching bag can fuel the activity without you acutely struggling to do so.

Dr. Costas Karageorghis, a psychology researcher at Brunel University in London, asserted that listening to music is a kind of legal performance-enhancing drug. The world leading expert on the effects of music on exercise also found in his latest research that relying on sounds to stay active refines physical action. "Music can enhance endurance by 15% and improve the 'feeling states' of exercisers, helping them to derive much greater pleasure from the task," he said.

2. Music uplifts your mood.

Depending on music for a better workout provides constant stimulus. It magically changes one's mindset in just a snap of a finger, and there is a scientific explanation of how a piece of melody affects human emotions.

Dr. Karageorghis claimed that "music can have a profound effect on our emotional state and every facet of music can contribute towards this, including the lyrics, tempo, and rhythm.” He discovered that with the help of music, exercisers are left feeling more positive even after working out to a soaring degree of intensity.

Meanwhile, Jeanette Bicknell, a Toronto-based scholar with an expertise in the philosophy of music, wrote in Psychology Today how music sets the mood. In her words: "When music is used during activity, it has ergogenic (work-enhancing) effects and psychological effects. Listening to music during exercise can both delay fatigue and lessen the subjective perception of fatigue."

Bicknell, who is also the author of Why Music Moves Us, added that music "can increase physical capacity, improve energy efficiency, and influence mood."

3. Music inspires you to actually exercise.

There are a plethora of moments when you feel like setting aside or even abandoning your healthy lifestyle goals. Those are the lazy days when you feel demotivated to get out of bed and end up losing the battle to tardiness. The thought of exercising drains you out easily.

Good thing music can restore our energy both mentally and physically.

The power of music has conditioned the human mind to function with the impression that, where there is music, there is action. Thus, it motivates us to produce movements.

"When you are exercising at low to moderate intensity, music can reduce your idea of how hard you have to work," Dr. Karageorghis noted. He also stressed that listening to music drives us to operate at our optimum. "Hearing music you associate with peak performance will fire areas of the brain that deal with your long-term memory. It can inspire you and help you shift up a gear."

The perfect rhythm

The type of music we listen to during weight-training sessions also creates a huge impact. It will be very beneficial and will generate a long-lasting positive effect on our workout performance if we choose the right music. Yes, the best workout music exists. According to Dr. Karageorghis, the ideal music is something that touches you and moves you on a personal level.

“When I hear Bill Conti’s ‘Gonna Fly Now,’ the theme from the Rocky film series, I feel as though just about anything’s possible in the gym,” he shared.

The Inside Sports Psychology author furthered that music which is fast, loud, rhythmical, percussive, and bass-driven is fine for psychologically preparing yourself before beginning to work out.

Nevertheless, it is crucial to take precautions when listening to music. There are cases where excessive use of music to exercise causes serious damage. "If you're running for over an hour with loud music in headphones, there is a health and safety issue," Dr. Karageorghis said.

Bicknell likewise reminded to limit the volume of sound as researchers found that long exposure to loud music can cause temporary hearing loss.

Aside from that, music, in general, has helped not only athletes, but also people who jog, run, cycle, and lift weights to get the most out of their workout routines.

Anecdotes, research, surveys, and studies alike all show that nothing works quite effective like music and exercise do.  

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