Nothing is more motivational than an awesome workout playlist. The right tunes can pump us up and keep us going all through our exercise routine. But did you know that working out to music actually has scientifically proven benefits?
Get Lost in the Music
Listening to music during a workout can alter how you perceive your physical exertion. Music is a complex medium that gives our brains a lot of information to process all at once. Studies have shown that music triggers areas of the brain associated with movement, planning, attention and memory. That means you won’t be tapping out early, because your mind will be focusing on other things. That stitch in your side won’t actually disappear, but you won’t notice it nearly as much as you would without your headphones in.
Plugging in while you’re working out may even improve your physical performance. Researchers are discovering that music can create an ergogenic effect on your body. Ergogenic refers to one’s athletic ability; aspects include improved performance, stamina, and recovery. So don’t feel self-conscious if you find yourself jamming out to “Eye of the Tiger” while running on the treadmill; chances are it’s benefiting more than just your dance moves!
It’s no secret that working out releases chemicals called endorphins that mask pain and make you feel happy. What is less known, however, is that music elicits a similar effect on our brains and bodies. Listening to your tunes releases dopamine, a neurochemical that also is released while eating chocolate. This will increase your pain threshold and ultimately make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Feel the Rhythm
Seasoned fitness buffs know that rhythm is key to an effective workout. With the right rhythm and a steady pace, you can complete reps quicker and more efficiently. Music aids this process because it helps us bypass our “thinking caps”, meaning that we aren’t hesitating, we’re just reacting as the music moves us. In fact, music therapy is used for patients who suffer from difficulties with their motor cortex as a result of Parkinson’s or a stroke. Rhythm is used to help them learn or relearn tasks like walking smoothly. How cool is that!
While all of these effects are amazing, the full extent of how our brains process music is still not known. So if you find that your fitness routine has fallen into a lull, use some music to get you to the next level. Pump up the jams and pump up your workout!