People often ask me how I stay motivated to exercise. Whether it is controlled performance based training, such as resistance or cardio vascular workouts or unstructured play based exercise like skateboarding, cycling or running my answer to maintaining motivation remains the same.
Listening to music is a major motivating factor across all exercise I participate in and is beneficial to me in several different ways.
Have you ever listened to a song and began to tap your toe or bob your head with the beat? I will venture to guess that the answer is yes. This is because the body has a natural inclination to synchronize movements with the sounds that it is hearing (whether you decided to express or repress those movements is up to you).
I choose to leverage this physical/auditory connection by filling my music player with high tempo music. A 2012 Brunel University study concluded that the rhythm of your workout music stimulates motor function in the body resulting in benefits to self-paced exercise. Using the cadence in music as time signals aids in energy efficiency by maintaining a steady, not a fluctuating, pace. As a result a performance advantage is created in activities such as running, walking, cycling, rowing, cross country skiing and more.
The benefit of music on your workout is not limited to regulating pace during cardio vascular exercise. Listening to something motivating and stimulating during weight training also promotes improved performance. Aside from guiding the rhythm of isolation or compound movements, listening to music improves mood. A 2013 study identifies that listening to music is effective in providing solace and escapism in the listener. The ability to utilize music in this way allows the listener to tune out the challenges and stresses they may be facing outside of their workout and hone in on the exercises being performed.
Furthermore, music will not only function as a mood booster, but will also combat lethargy during your workout. The body’s natural proclivity to move in the presence of music will help cut down on rest time between exercises, making your workout both physically challenging and time efficient.
Finally, pairing your workouts with music diverts your attention in times of fatigue. Research has shown that listening to music distracts attention from aspects of physical awareness in athletes such as pain, allowing them to push through that final repetition or last meters when training. This distraction and energy boost can assist in achieving the greatest benefit from a workout on a consistent basis.
Listening to music on a personal device during exercise serves as both an agent of concentration and distraction. It can put you in the “zone”, engross you in your workout, increase your effort and help you keep pace.
If you’re not tailoring your playlist to your workout, maybe it’s time to start. It will change the way you exercise. Choose music that is motivational and that you enjoy – something that will get you moving faster, completing more repetitions, and going further.
What music gets you motivated? We’d love to hear from you.