Have you ever stopped and wondered why music seems to make exercise more enjoyable?
Musicologists describe music as “ergogenic” or work-enhancing. Numerous research studies have shown that music can improve physical performance. One study showed subjects could run at their cardiovascular max for 51 seconds longer by listening to upbeat music.
Other research has shown that at moderate levels of intensity, music reduces perceived effort, making work feel easier and more enjoyable. Studies like these lead the Annals of Sports Medicine and Research to classify music as a legal performance-enhancing drug! In 2007, the US Governing body for running competitions barred personal music players at official races. Today, sports psychologists make a living by helping athletes plan out their playlists to maximize training performance.
Qualities of a great training song:
1. Strong beat
2. Tempo of 110-140 beats per minute
3. Energetic feel
4. Lyrics that highlight performance and positive feelings, ie “work,” “go,” “don’t stop,” “run,” and “push it”
5. Catchy lyrics and tune
Take a minute and think about your favorite workout songs; they probably check off many of those boxes!
Some timeless workout songs to give a go:
1. Till I Collapse by Eminem
2. Wake Me Up by Avicii
3. Eye of the Tiger by Survivor
4. Lose Yourself by Eminem
Next time you go for a run and put on the music, you can appreciate the science behind the positive energy it brings.
Adapted from The Joy of movement: how exercise helps us find happiness, hope, connection, and courage by Kelly McGonigal 2019