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Not Motivated Enough To Exercise? Try Listening To Music!

By stimulating the nervous system, music demands a physiological and emotional response from the body. This distracts the body from the physical strain even when the workout gets tough. Thus, music can not only motivate one to exercise and perform better, but can also improve one's overall performance. Match your playlist's structure and beat to that of your workout and finally, don't allow yourself to get distracted from yourself or your surroundings.

There’s no denying the benefits of exercising on a regular basis. There is also no denying the fact that exercise involves an incredible amount of hard work.

The very thought of all that running, jumping, stretching, squatting, and weight lifting when our day already looks like a to-do list full of tasks is enough to make us feel tired before we even start. Even if we manage to get ourselves to do it the first few days, the idea of sticking to that plan every day seems either too boring or too impossible. Eventually, we give up and go back to our old ways which include staring enviously at other park-joggers and gym-goers, wishing we knew the secret behind that kind of willpower and dedication.

But look a little more carefully. What’s the one thing that these people have in common, other than their track pants, vests, and workout shoes?

Earphones. And that means only one thing – listening to music.

Music could just be the solution you’ve been looking for to not only get you to enjoy exercising but also to get the best out of your workout. Here are the facts.

Music Can Be A Great Exercise Motivator, Says Research

A study in the Journal of Sports Medicine discovered that using music during warm-ups and workouts can significantly lower one’s cardiovascular response such as your blood pressure and heart rate during exercise.1

Another study reported that music can help improve one’s overall muscle power output.2

Yet another study found that fast-paced music can significantly improve athletic performance and that even though music won’t bring down the level of difficulty of the exercise, it can still motivate a person to push himself harder to achieve his best.3

So what’s the link between music and the motivation to exercise?

Music Has A Direct Impact On Your Nervous System

Researchers are of the opinion that it is probably the autonomic nervous system (ANS) that serves as a path by which music is allowed to influence our body.

The autonomic nervous system has two divisions through which it regulates a majority of our body’s physiological systems. – the sympathetic (SNS), which is involved in excitatory responses (such as a faster heartbeat rate and faster, heavier breathing) and parasympathetic (PNS) which promotes relaxation such as (normal heartbeat rate and relaxed breathing).4

When a sensory stimulation like music is presented to your body, the PNS and the SNS respond accordingly. Fast tempo music causes responses that are similar to that of an environmental stressor (an increase in the rate of heartbeat and heavy breathing) as opposed to relaxing music which would generate a parasympathetic response (a more relaxed rate of heartbeat and breathing). Previous studies have, in fact, shown a direct synchronization of heart rate and neuronal firing with music rhythm, which means that music can even control your muscle coordination.5

In addition to eliciting physiological responses, music exposure also engages the listener emotionally. Studies have shown that a person is more likely to be motivated to push himself to perform better while listening to music he loves.6

This is why music matters, folks when it comes to exercise. Time to go make a workout playlist, which, by the way, requires more than just hitting the shuffle mode and pressing play.

Tips On How To Make The Perfect Workout Playlist

  • Match your beat to your workout: Whether your exercise routine involves high-intensity training or brisk jogging or moving in and out of yoga poses in a slow, relaxed manner, pick your songs to match the tempo of your body movement. Fast tempo music is ideal for high-intensity training and cardio, while slower tempo music is more appropriate in case of someone practicing yoga.
  • Structure your playlist according to your workout: This is in continuation with our previous point. Just as you don’t break into a sprint the moment you set foot in your gym, don’t let your playlist start off with songs that are bursting with energy. Start with slow, mellow music to match your gentler warm-ups. Next, choose songs that are a little faster in rhythm as you’re getting set to start your workout. Now you get to the part where you select really upbeat music to match your muscle coordination when you’re performing at your peak. Do this and you will be surprised to find how easy it is to stay motivated through the different phases of your workout regime.
  • Choose songs that make you feel happy: This is stating the obvious but a reminder, nonetheless. The more positive the beat and the lyrics, the more motivated you will be to push yourself to perform better.

A Final Word Of Caution

You want to distract yourself from the intensity of the exercise, not yourself and your surroundings. Plus, staying in tune with your body is also one of the factors that can impact your workout. Therefore, don’t allow your playlist to zone you out to people, instruments, or cars around you. Remember, surviving your workout is your number one priority.

References   [ + ]

1. Arazi, Hamid, Abbas Asadi, and Morteza Purabed. “Physiological and psychophysical responses to listening to music during warm-up and circuit-type resistance exercise in strength trained men.” Journal of sports medicine 2015 (2015).
2. Chtourou, H., A. Chaouachi, O. Hammouda, K. Chamari, and N. Souissi. “Listening to music affects diurnal variation in muscle power output.” International journal of sports medicine 33, no. 01 (2012): 43-47.
3, 6. Waterhouse, Jim, Pollyana Hudson, and Ben Edwards. “Effects of music tempo upon submaximal cycling performance.” Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports 20, no. 4 (2010): 662-669.
4, 5. Kleifgen, Elyse, Chris Martin, and Elyse Zarling. “The Physiological Response to Music Tempo: The Investigation of the “Pump-Up” Song.” (2011).

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.