“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain” Bob Marley – Trenchtown Rock
I had finally talked myself into un-gluing my eyes from Breaking Bad, changing into my workout clothes and heading into the snow toward the gym, but once I was finally situated on the treadmill I realized that one vital piece of my workout wasn’t quite right: my headphones were broken! How was I ever going to run on that boring old treadmill without my meticulously-planned playlist pumping through the speakers? (Let me be honest in saying that it didn’t last very long.)
We’ve all figured out by now that living healthfully and well includes getting regular exercise. It’s convenient that cardio, strength training and CrossFit have become cultural norms, because their cool-factors sometimes influence participation. That’s excellent, because getting there is sometimes the hardest step.
So, you’re packing your gym bag– what do you need? A water bottle, a change of clothes and some headphones. As fitness programs become increasingly popular, the music industry is thriving in the gym too. Research is proving that music makes a healthier mind and body, including more focused and energized workouts.
Did you know music is linked to improved mental and physical performance?
This Washington Post article describes the significance of exercising with music, specifically in terms of beats per minute or BPM. The tempo of the music is said to cause a change in the tempo of the exercise.
Whether it’s keeping a running pace or finishing the last reps of a weight-lifting routine, listening to music helps to synchronize your mind and your body to the rhythm of the music.
Carl Foster, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin at Lacrosse, describes the important process as a metronome. He acknowledges that keeping the beat dates as far back as to the Roman rowers keeping pace of their rows by a drumbeat.
I have played competitive soccer for something like 18 years and I really enjoy staying active by running. Running is enjoyable for me but I’m not the best at it. Each year during pre-season my coach gives us a fitness test which includes running 2 miles at a specific pace. I train all summer and I never feel prepared for the test unless I put a specific 2-mile song on repeat. I have found that if my foot hits the ground in cadence with the tempo of the music, I can complete the run in just the right amount of time. (Shout-out to Chris Brown’s Look At Me Now for helping finish my 2-mile in less than 14 minutes)
Proof that it works? Maybe not scientifically, but I’m not a bad primary source.
Music doesn’t just help keep a tempo, however, it’s also good for the mind. This slideshow from the Huffington Post describes 11 health benefits of music. Some of the items on the list include music’s ability to:
– Reduce stress and anxiety
– Boost heart health
– Help memory
– Protect your ears’ sound-processing abilities
– Soothe pain
– Improve stroke recovery
It’s important to keep in mind that all music isn’t suitable music for every occasion. Certain music may cause distraction or raise stress levels depending on its context.
Here is a link to another article that does a good job breaking down the different benefits and effects of listening to music – Health benefits of music
Why was I so bummed about one silly workout session without music? Because it helps fuel my energy, and your energy too. Music has been scientifically linked to increased physical performance and energy. The synchronization of mind and body make for a positive meditative experience. Instead of being distracted by details, music helps to create a focus during workouts.