A while back I was bagging on exercise distractions and how they shrink our productivity. Apparently, I was wrong. Though TV and books are still hazards on the treadmill, it turns out music doesn’t kill our focus. In fact, it’s the opposite — music has been proven to improve our exercise performance.
That’s good news for me, because when I wrote that article, I was hiding something: I can’t exercise without noise.
Lifting weights with crickets in the background? Boring.
Running to the hum of freeway traffic? Really boring.
A renowned expert on the subject, Len Kravitz, PhD, says: “Having clients listen to their favorite self-selected music choices during challenging exercise is a favorable application fitness professionals have employed for years.”
Um, I think what he’s saying is music pumps us up for a butt-kicking routine.
A Good Kind of Distraction
Workout distractions usually mean dwindling energy, not powerful performance. But there’s no denying that good beats take care of boredom, which is poison to an exercise regimen.
No matter how many times Greta tangles her schnoz in my earbud cords while I’m putting her harness on, I still prefer iPod to no iPod. Music gets me moving. It also keeps me moving — right past long-winded neighbors who would otherwise stop me to chat.
Good tunes also drown out our inner conversations (those of the “I’m bored-tired-hungry-bloated-nauseous-unable-to-breathe” variety). Who’s feeling sorry for herself while thumping along to Fer-ga-li-cious? Not me.
Upbeat Music, Upbeat Mind
Road-trippers have been on to this for a while: Music wakes you up. It has been proven to increase psychological arousal, even when not at speaker-blowing decibels, according to a research review on IdeaFit.
A good playlist can cancel out fatigue not just in our minds, but in our bodies, too. Kravitz reports that the “byproduct molecules of high level exercise” — chemicals that cause fatigue — can be reversed by music. How cool is that?
Why the Rhythm Gets You
Have you ever walked into a nightclub, heard Gloria Estefan and automatically started swaying your hips? Me neither. But it has happened at the grocery store. There’s just something about certain rhythms that seems to take over our motor control.
It turns out there is, in fact, something about it: Music has been found to influence our motor coordination. That’s why music therapists use music to help patients overcome motor control conditions. And in exercisers, music not only increases endurance and motivation, but also helps us move more efficiently at a faster pace.
I don’t know about you, but I’m all for letting my music do the exercising for me.
Get Pumped with the Right Playlist
Nothing breaks through a summer slump like a fierce playlist. Men: Ryan just posted 14 songs at NoMoreBacon that’ll put hair on your sweaty chests. And for the ladies, there are workout mixes galore at MarieClaire. Runners can also get specific BPM recommendations at a cool site called A Bold Pace.
What’s in your workout mix?