For many athletes, music is not just an added joy, it’s vital for them to maximise performance when training and working out. Some people prefer audio books or podcasts, but most rely on a good beat to keep them motivated when they’re at the gym.
In recent years, there’s been evidence to show that music can make a positive change to your body and mind while exercising. It distracts your brain from feeling tired and fatigued, lifts your mood and can even improve your metabolic efficiency. When listening to music, people can run faster, lift more and stretch further without even realising they’re doing it.
When making your workout playlist, there’s a little bit of science behind choosing the perfect songs. Most people have a good sense of rhythm and can match their movements to the beat of a song, so most playlists tend to be full of pop songs with a strong beat. Some psychologists have researched further into this and concluded that the most popular speed of walking is 120 beats per minute – which is two beats every minute. If you tap along with your finger, you’ll see that this is quite a good, steady pace to workout to.
When on a treadmill, the sweet spot for speed is around 160 bpm, so by choosing songs that are a little faster than that will subconsciously encourage you to run faster.
Although not everyone exercises exactly in time to their music, there has been evidence to show that those who cycle in time use up to seven percent less oxygen, and that the beat can even act as a metronome for your body’s movements.
Music can also just play as a distraction to some people, as it makes your brain think about something other than all the physical exertion you’re going through. Instead of focusing entirely on your exercise, it begins to wonder into the music, and it forgets that you’re starting to feel tired.
So, next time you’re choosing workout songs, be sure to keep it upbeat and fast paced to maximise your physical potential.