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What’s on your exercise playlist?

Thanks to Shakespeare, we all know that music is the food of love, but if you’re anything like me, you might also find it somewhat motivational when it comes to exercise. In fact, I’m not sure I’d survive my daily workout without those steady, reliable beats blasting in my eardrums. When my energy levels are running worryingly low, all it takes is the upbeat sound of Flo Rida to push me through that last painful kilometre.

Running, or indeed performing any form of exercise in time with music is not a new concept. In fact, our need to groove and move is so innate that Nike and Apple joined forces several years ago to deliver the Nike+ app – there to stream your playlists straight into your ears whilst tracking and recording your workout progress.

Indeed, research suggests that not only is music motivational when it comes to exercise, but it can also enhance performance. A study published in The Sport Journal outlines five strategic ways music influences physical activity and, in turn, your performance and motivation. These are dissociation, attainment of flow, synchronisation, arousal regulation and acquisition of motor skills.

According to the research, disscociation, or music’s ability to make the mind ‘forget’ feelings of fatigue, means that the body expends less energy, in turn making the exerciser happier. It follows, then, that when the exerciser experiences dissociation, the workout is more fun and there is more motivation to continue.

Costas Karageorghis, a sports psychologist at Britain’s Brunel University, has been researching the relationship between exercise and music for the last 20 years. He believes there are four factors that contribute to a song’s motivational qualities: rhythm response, musicality, cultural impact and association.

Rhythm response refers to the beats per minute of the song, and how well it ties in with either the heartbeat of the exerciser or their cadence. Musicality refers to the melody and harmony of the song, whilst cultural impact and association refer to the musical background and preferences of the exerciser.

According to research performed by Karageorghis and published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, synching beats per minute with an exercise pace can increase efficiency. “The synchronous application of music resulted in much higher endurance while the motivational qualities of the music impacted significantly on the interpretation of fatigue symptoms right up to the point of voluntary exhaustion,” Karageorghis reported.

Karageorghis also found that the same is true when matching beats per minute with our exercise heart rate.

Whatever the research says, I know what works for me and, at the risk of revealing my terrible taste in music, here’s a run down of my very own 30 minute playlist. It’s eclectic, I know, but I couldn’t get through the daily grind of a 5km run without it.

Radioactive (Kings of Leon)
More Than This (One Direction)
Trembling Hands (The Temper trap)
Miracle (The Temper Trap)
Sitting On Top Of The World (Delta Goodrem)
Wild Ones (Flo Rida)
The A Team (Ed Sheeran)
Drunk (Ed Sheeran)
A&E (Goldfrapp)

So tell us…What’s on your exercise playlist? Do you find music motivational or do you prefer to zone out completely when you exercise?

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About the Author

Lizzy has more than ten years’ experience in the print and digital publishing arena and is the Editor at Single File. Having moved from the UK to Australia in 2008, Lizzy has worked for a number of leading publishers in Sydney and has particular expertise in the health, wellness and travel markets. If you have any questions for Lizzy, you can send them across by email to lizzy@singlefile.com.au.

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