Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Music Makes It Better.

I usually enjoy working out. When I don’t exercise, I get grumpy and lethargic and you just don’t want to be around me. Getting out there and breaking a sweat is the ultimate cure for a bad day.

But I also have those days when I just don’t wanna. Maybe I’m tired and feeling overwhelmed by life. I want to wear yoga pants and binge watch Real Housewives. On those occasions, I often drag myself to Jazzercise with the promise that I’ll give it 15 minutes and if I’m STILL not feeling it, I have permission to leave.

Nine times out of ten, I end up staying. Why? Pitbull! Lady Gaga! Megan Traynor!  MUSIC.

Instructors are  introducing new songs and new routines in class this week and it’s definitely a motivational shot in the arm. Dancing to new music really does improve my workout. 

And there’s science behind why that’s true.

First of all, music with “high-groove” qualities will improve YOUR groove. (Music that moves you, Music Psychology) Groove in music is defined as the aspect of a tune that makes you want to tap your foot. The music excites the motor areas of our brain and it's impossible to sit still. 

Just ask Elaine.

Music also makes us work harder and longer. (Phys Ed: Does Music Make You Exercise Harder?, NYTimes)  Up-tempo music distracts from the pain and at the same time, gets us moving. In one study, volunteers riding stationary bikes and listening to up-tempo music produced a more powerful pedal stroke and racked up more miles than when the tempo of the music dropped.  In another study, basketball players who had trouble performing under pressure did better at the free-throw line when they listened to an upbeat tune. 

I find that music also just helps put me in the zone, if you know what I mean. A good music set makes for a very short hour.

Scientists aren’t quite sure why music works because the interplay of music, your brain and your body isn’t totally understood.  Songs with a tempo of between 120 and 140 beats per minute (bpm) are said to be effective because they mirror your heart rate. (7 Reasons You Should Listen to Music When You Work Out, Huffington Post) 

I found this cool website that actually lists the bpm for songs and recommends music for running, walking or cycling. Jog-FM also has playlists for everything from a half marathon to a 3.5 mph walk. You can also build and share your own playlist.

If you run, walk or cycle with headphones in your ears, watch the volume. I know, I know, I sound like your mother. But really. High volume over a long period of time will cause ringing in the ears. Have you ever set next to someone with headphones on and you can still hear the music? Yeah, that’s too loud. It also prevents you from hearing what’s around you, like that car coming when you run across the street.

Okay, that’s my mom lecture for today.

One of my goals for the upcoming weekend is to put together a “Happy” playlist. I’m going to fill it up with songs that boost my mood and turn to it whenever I’m feeling a little stressed or blue. Right now, that includes songs like Hold My Hand by Jess Glynne, a current favorite of mine.

What songs are on your Happy or Workout playlist?