People listen to all kinds of tunes as they prepare for the gym; this past week, I dug a little deeper into why people listen to what they do as they are physically active.
Research conducted in the past 10 years has indicated that music during workouts has unique impacts on perceived exertion. For example, a study by Fritz, Hardikar, Demoucron, Niessen, Demey, Giot, Li, Haynes, Villringer and Leman conducted in 2013 found that an increased connection to music decreased perceived body stress during physical activity. In other words, their findings indicate that the ability to impact what you are listening to through your movements actually decreases how tired you feel when you hit the gym. Another study by North and Hargreaves conducted in 2000 found that participants chose music to match their objective arousal level. When people were exercising and thus energized, they chose different music than when they were relaxed. Both of these studies indicate a special relationship between music and workouts that does not exist in other contexts.
Most of you likely already knew that your “homework” music is different from your “gym” music, but what does that translate to? To answer this question, I asked a few of my peers about what they listen to while working out.
Some people like to listen to exciting music while they hit the gym, choosing songs with 140 beats per minute (bpm) or more. Summer Peterson ’18 follows this trend, with her workout track “Love on the Brain” originally by Rihanna, remixed by Don Diablo. Peterson’s version of the song is at 160 bpm, ideal for a cardio workout. Sarah Keith ’18 also likes this track, but includes other hits such as “When you were young” by The Killers. That song rings in at 130 bpm; a little low compared to Peterson’s but still good for a workout.
When I chatted with Elliot Chun ’18, things got a little interesting. This gym-goer actually prefers the Star Wars main theme; he says, “It’s one of my favorite movies of all time! And just listening to it gets me all ready to take down the empire and save the day.” Despite clocking in at 117 bpm, Chun seems to enjoy using this slower song for his gym excursions.
“My songs know what you did in the dark” by Fall Out Boy is Justin Demers’ ’18 number one gym track; its 152 bpm likely energizes him as he starts his workouts.
A friend who prefers to remain anonymous mentioned that he enjoyed listening to Margaret Atwood’s Hag-seed audiobook, claiming that its connection to Shakespeare’s The Tempest keeps him intellectually stimulated as he runs.
I follow a different pattern when it comes to workout music; for me, my music depends on the activity. I like to listen to audiobooks when I run outside, but on the treadmills inside I prefer songs such as “Dreaming” by Smallpools and “My Type” by Saint Motel. Both of these tracks have 118 bpm, but they still manage to keep me going. However, on the ellipticals, Netflix is king and bpm is thrown out the window.
What role does music play in your workouts? Most researchers would say that songs ranging 120-150 bpm are the best, but the above testimonials demonstrate that that is not always the case. My advice is to keep using the music you like, but if you are looking for a change, check out this link for a list of songs with 160 bpm to support a cardio workout: https://jog.fm/workout-songs/at/160/bpm?order=desc&sort=popularity