Set the Mood.. For a Great Workout!

February 8, 2016


I recently finished a book titled “How Your Playlist Can Change Your Life” and it inspired me to write this blog on how your playlist can change your workout.


If you’re like me, music is something you enjoy daily. Yes, if you pass me on the road, you will probably see me singing, and if you participate in one of my Zumba classes you will most definitely hear me belt out some songs (I apologize ahead of time.), but I digress.


Music has long been known to have effects on the heart and soul, but it actually has the biggest effect on the mind. So if you find yourself bummed to look into your gym bag and see headphones, but no I pod, continue reading, because there is a reason for the void our missing I pods leave on our workout.


1.  Why Does the Titanic Song Depress Me?


Did you know music has a direct link to your emotions? The key word here is dopamine, or the feel good chemical your body releases. If you are listening to a song that you really like, dopamine is released, so in essence, listening to the right music can put you in the right mood and be a powerful tool to getting the results you want during your workout. 



2.  Listen to Michael Jackson and “Beat It”


You may have noticed that some songs list a BPM-which stands for beats per minute. This little number can actually make or break your workout. Think of it this way, you need to find the right BPM that allows you to keep going at the right pace. Songs with a hard driving beat make it easy to follow, plus easier for your body to anticipate the beat. This process will activate your brain and synchronize the movement of your muscles to the rhythms.


Not sure what BPM you need? Here’s a basic guideline to follow


  • Under 100 Slow workouts, warm-up/cool downs

  • 115-120 Light walking

  • 130-140+ Power walking, cycling, general cardio

  • 135-160 Jogging

  • 150-175 Running

  • 175+ Running and sprinting


3.  The Dr’s Spin on Your Playlist


 “Music is like is a legal drug for athletes,” says Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D., from


London’s Brunel University School of Sport and Education, one of the world’s leading authorities on music and exercise.


If Karageorghis hasn’t blown your mind enough with the last statement, he goes on to state “It can reduce the perception of effort significantly and increase endurance by as much as 15 percent.”



Looks like she’s found her beat…

Over the past 20 years of research, Karageorghis has identified three primary things about music that could possibly influence exercise performance:



1) The tendency to move in time with synchronous sounds (e.g., tapping your toe in time with music or the beat of a drum)


 2) The tendency of music to increase arousal (e.g., the desire to move and workout rather than to sit)


 3) The tendency for music to distract the exerciser from discomfort that might be related to exercise.


So next time you get ready to workout, whether at the gym or at home, think about creating a playlist to give your workout and brain an extra boost. Just remember these few rules.


  1. Be cautious not create a playlist that is all one tempo, especially a fast tempo. Make sure to have three to four slower songs to warm up to, and gradually increase the tempo letting your body flow into the rhythm of your workout and finish off with two to three slower songs for a cool down.

  2. Be sure that your music isn’t distracting you from your surroundings, especially if you are working out outside for instance, running, or walking.


As Alex Doman, author of “Healing at the Speed of Sound” has said “At the end of the day, everyone is going to have their own preferences when it comes to music selection, which is OK,” said Doman. “But once you find that correct tempo that complements your routine, your workout will feel much more efficient.”


And just in case you were wondering, my three top workout songs are:


- Sandstorm – Darude  136 BPM

- Blow- Kesha 120 BPM

- Stronger- Kanye West  123 BPM


Until Next Time, Yours in Health and Fitness - Ashley


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