How Music Can Enhance Your Workout

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It's not rocket science; music fuels your workouts. It's no wonder many fitness buffs and endurance athletes put their headphones on and tune the world out during physical activity. No matter what their training routine entails, music can help athletes of all kinds get into the "zone" and perform their physical best.

So how does music enhance workouts?

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The Effects of Music on Exercise

The link between music and exercise is not new. B.C. era rowers used music for their work on Roman Galleys, according to Carl Foster, Ph.D., director of the Human Performance Laboratory and research director of the Clinical Exercise Physiology program at the University of Wisconsin.

"The guy is sitting there beating his drum, which drives the basic rowing rhythm. Part of that is coordination—you want the rowers to row together—but part of it is that people will naturally follow a tempo," says Foster. "It's just something about the way our brain works."

Research exploring the link between music and exercise began  in the 1920s and continues today. According to Robert Sewak, PD, author of the article Striking the Right Chord With the Music You Choose, scientists in 1935 discovered a simple tempo change in music caused the respiration rate to change.  

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As they observed more data, scientists also noticed that music:

  • Changed the heart rate
  • Affected blood pressure
  • Changed the metabolic rate
  • Reduced physical and mental stress
  • Reduced fatigue

All of these things aid the flow of energy in the human body.

The sound waves of music enter your ears and turns into pulses or vibrations, which travel to the nerves in the brain. The pulses influence the brain, which then translates to the body's movement.

Music with a fast beat subconsciously travels through your brain down to your fingers which allows them to tap to the rhythm. Pay attention next time you're listening to music at your desk. Notice how your body moves without any thought.

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