Your Playlist Matters – Here’s Why

We’ve all had that experience. You’re just about to hit that final hill. You’re jamming out to “Eye of the Tiger” on your iPod. In that moment when you need that extra push to get you through the toughest part of your run, the song changes to a slow song from your yoga playlist. Talk about a buzzkill.

I’m not sure about you, but meditative flutes don’t fuel me to crush what feel like sprints up Mount Everest.

It turns out there are many reasons why you gravitate to particular songs, which motivate you to give just a little bit more “oomph.”

The Effects of Music

Many studies have been published about the effects of music in correlation to exercise intensity and output, especially for aerobic training. It’s no surprise that the majority of these studies all pose the same theory: what you listen to matters. Your brain correlates a beat into movement in your body. You then naturally move to the beat.

Think about it. If you’ve attended a group fitness class like spinning or aerobics, the instructor pairs songs with different beats for a particular type of workout. In spin, slower beats are usually suitable for a slower, deeper pedal stroke for hill climbs and endurance. In aerobics, most people naturally step as the beat music is playing because we can hear and feel the pulse of the music. This synchronization, the coordination of events to operate a system in unison, means choosing your playlist to support your footfall, your level of exertion and your level of energy. It’s just common sense. Music is a subconscious way to get your body moving on its own.

So you don’t run with music? You might prefer to hear the beat of your own heart, the constant thump on the pavement, and the traffic. It’s your choice, but know that adding an element of distraction can make you go the extra mile.

Listen to this theory – music may temporarily distract you from some of the body’s internal cues typically associated with tiredness. Yes, it may sound like I’m telling you to ignore the pain, and in a way, I am. While I’m not advocating you run with a broken leg, consider how athletes train – by pushing a little harder each time. That beat, that pump from your favorite tunes can help you break through to the next level.

So next time you’re updating your playlist for your run, think about what your playlist is telling your body to do – and choose wisely before you get to that killer hill!

Featured Image credit: iStockphoto