Sometimes it’s hard to sit still when you’re listening to music. Even when you don’t notice background music, it has the power to get your toes tapping, hips swaying, and hands clapping. It also has power over your emotions and state of mind. It can calm you, put you in a happy place, or excite you. Put these effects of music together and you have the perfect combination for exercise.
Listening to music while you work out has been shown to motivate you to keep moving, distract you from wanting to quit, make exercise more enjoyable, and set the pace for your activity. Here’s how to choose the perfect tunes for your workout playlist.
Make It Rock
There’s no right or wrong genre of music for your playlist. All you want is something that will get you moving rather than put you to sleep. Choose songs you like to listen to and that have a strong beat. This could be hip-hop, rock, jazz, rap, country, or even certain styles of classical. Catchy lyrics are also helpful to help keep your mind occupied.
An easy way to get a pre-made playlist is to download specific music apps to your phone, iPod, or mobile device. Some apps are free and include commercials, while commercial-free apps come with a small fee. Two popular music apps are Soundcloud and Spotify. If you’d rather create your own playlist, try Pacemaker Music or Stringer app. Not sure if a song has the right tempo? Certain apps tell you how many beats per minute a song has.
Make the List
Since what you listen to while you run may be different than what would motivate you while you lift weights, it’s best to create a playlist that fits the type of exercise you’re doing. The playlist should also carry you through the various phases of your workout, from warm-up to exercise to cool-down.
For your warm-up, choose a song that’s about four minutes long and has a tempo of about 80 to 90 beats per minute. Even though it’s slower paced, the song should still pump you up and get you ready for the workout ahead. Maybe choose a song that has inspirational lyrics.
As you move into your workout, play songs that make you want to move and that synchronize with your pace to get your heart rate up. Cardio workouts are best done to music with a consistent number of beats per minute, usually somewhere between 120 and 140. Anything faster than 140 beats per minute may hamper your workout rather than help. If you plan to include interval training in your workout, alternate between songs with a faster beat and songs with a slower beat.
Near the end of your workout, when you’re trying to give it your all, play a song that inspires you to go the extra mile even when you feel spent.
The final part of your workout is your cool-down. As your pace slows and your heart rate comes down, include at least five minutes of slower paced songs that you enjoy and that make you feel good about yourself and your accomplishments.