Ever notice that you drive faster when you are listening to a song you love? The same is true of exercise! Listening to your favorite song can make you walk faster without even realizing you are doing it. Music can serve as an invisible partner, urging you, motivating you, supporting you to take that next step, to walk or bike or run that next mile.
Music for Healthy Inspiration
Not only can music motivate us, but it can also distract us from what we might otherwise consider to be unpleasant. You might just forget that your calves are burning if you are singing along with Elvis and his hunk of burning love! We all know that exercise can be boring, especially during those long winter months on a treadmill. Music can help break up the monotony. Thirty minutes of good music is thirty minutes well spent, even when you’re on a stationary bicycle.
A 2005 study done at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s School of Psychology showed encouraging results to all of us music lovers. The project studied 41 overweight to moderately obese women during a 24-week program that consisted of dieting, walking and participating in weekly group meetings. The women were assigned to one of two groups. The first group of women were given CD players and told to listen to the music of their choice while they walked. The other group also walked, but without the music.
When the 24 weeks were over, results showed that the music-walkers did a better job of sticking to their walking program (98% adherent) than the non-music-walkers (only 68% adherent). Even more impressive than that, the women in the music group lost an average of 16 pounds and 4% of their body fat, while the non-music women lost an average of only 8 pounds and 2% of their body fat. So, if you want to stick with an exercise program, which is imperative for lasting weight loss, music can really help you be consistent and diligent.
“Whether it’s classical, rock ‘n’ roll, heavy metal or rap, if someone enjoys a particular type of music, it can be very motivating to help them get through a workout,” says Ken Alan, a fitness expert who produced the first pre-mixed hit music compilation specifically for exercise back in 1986. “It can help the time go by faster and it can reduce the perceived intensity or exertion.”
How Can Music be Used as a Tool to Achieve Weight Loss Goals and Enhance Fitness?
Here are a few tips:
Before you get started, treat yourself to an iPod or MP3 player. Download your favorite music and you’ll have a tiny, portable, convenient coach to take with you to the gym or on that long walk with the dogs. Different music works for different people so make your own playlist instead of relying on a pre-made CD.
Sometimes you notice people at the gym, listening to their headphones, and they look they are enjoying it. They are jiving along to the beat in their ears, and they are almost dancing on the Stairmaster. Our bodies in motion will often naturally fall into rhythm with whatever it is we listen to, so be sure that the music you choose has a snappy tempo. You don’t want to accidentally match the tempo of “Always on My Mind.” Instead, try listening to “Judy” on a Yamaha digital piano.
You might also consider exploring some remixes of your favorite songs. These versions are created to be danced to, so why not exercise to them too? They are also usually longer than their original versions, which is a plus for when we really need to push ourselves to go the distance.
As we all know, eating right and limiting calories is only part of the battle. It takes tenacity and commitment to stick to an exercise program. But, it just might be a lot more feasible with music on your side! Be sure to keep the music at a volume that won’t damage your ears, and even though you are working out, it is still important to be aware of your surroundings. Keep your volume low enough so you can hear if someone blows their horn at you or someone hollers at you. If a dog is chasing you, you want to hear it coming, not try to serenade it by singing along with “Hound Dog” on maximum volume!