Music’s Effect on Exercise Efficiency

by Jacqueline Cootes

Music has developed itself into kind of a necessity or somewhat of a social norm. You could be walking down the street and instantly you spot someone walking right next to you with earphones in their ears. But, the most common time where music has always seemed to be quite existent has been while working out. Whether you are exercising with a sports team, running on the treadmill, or doing some sort of weight bearing activity, most likely you are listening to music.

But did you ever think that music could actually be helping you. Studies have shown that listening to music actually stimulates your heart rate and really amplifies your workout. The average heart rate is from about 72-80 beats per minute, where as music tempos range from about 70-170 beats per minute. And while you are actually listening to the music your heart rate tends to follow the rate of the music thus increasing your overall heart rate during an activity.

An interesting study performed by Dr. Kargeogh’s at Brunel University of London showed this idea. He and Spotify, a digital music service, actually worked together to come up with the “Ultimate Fitness Workout Playlist.” They worked toward the belief that even at relatively high exercise intensities, there is a preference for higher music tempos. Kurtis Shultz, the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Men’s Basketball Team at the University of Southern California commented that his players do listen to music while working out and “it has to be upbeat.” They also discovered that we have a “sweet spot” for music. This “sweet spot” is associated with music tempos ranging from 120-140 beats-per-minute.

They also found incorporating this music can actually push you when you feel like you cannot run anymore to actually getting you through the hard stuff by actually lifting your mood.

The Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Men’s and Women’s Volleyball teams at the University of Southern California agreed that music does help with mood and said, “I do think music assists the athletes in getting into the correct mindset. Some workouts they really want music while other they don’t worry so much about it.” It is also shown that at different forms of workouts that your heart rate is at various levels and certain music is better than others at that point. For example, when you power walk your approximate beats-per-minute is around 137-139. When you run your around 147-169 beats per minute, and when you are cycling you are around 135-170 beats-per-minute.

Now in Dr. Kargeogh’s study they actually took contemporary songs that we as students listen to all the time and matched them to the certain levels of beats-per-minute for certain activities. For example, “Can’t Hold Us,” by Ryan Maklemore and Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton has a relatively fast tempo and would correlate with a cardio or very intense level of work out. Where as a song like “Get Lucky,” by Daft Punk has a tempo around 116 beats-per-minute and is better for a warm-up. It was also noted that songs like Katy Perry’s “Roar” is good for mental preparation, Jason Derulo ft. 2 Chains “Talk Dirty,” is good for stretching, Pitbull ft Ke$ha “Timber” is recommended for cardio training but at a lower intensity, and Lorde’s “Royals” is a good post workout song.

So, if you want to make a playlist that will not only amplify your workout but also just put you in a good mood, find songs that have a distinct rhythm preferably at a notable beat-per-minute close to your ranging activity.

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