Most people won’t even start a workout without the right playlist, but have you ever thought about how your music affects your performance? Music is more than just a way to help pass the time on a long run or drown out noise at the gym. It can actually be very motivating when you select songs with the perfect mood and tempo for your activity. In fact, humans are highly receptive to music, so your jam-list really can have a substantial and measurable influence on how much you get out of your workout.

Find the Right Tempo

Your music should vary throughout your workout, since different activities may warrant faster tempos and a more upbeat tune. Save your fastest tunes for cardio-based workouts, because you will naturally set your pace to the music you’re listening to. With activities like yoga or strength-training, however, you’ll want to slow it down a bit, since moving too fast can cause you to lose focus on proper posture as you stretch or lift weights.

Set the Mood

Interestingly, the speed of a song should not be the only factor to consider when picking your workout soundtrack. In one workout study, researchers in Belgium found that participants moved faster during certain songs, even though all songs played maintained the same tempo of 130 beats per minute (BPM). So what triggered the change in pace? The mood of the music.

According to the study, if you want to get moving you should look for activating music, which features a consistently loud volume, heavy downbeat, and repetitive short notes (think “Paint It Black” by The Rolling Stones). Relaxing music, on the other hand, emphasizes longer melodies with contrasting volume levels (check out “Weightless” by Marconi Union – dubbed the most relaxing song in the world). Therefore, you might look to pop and electronica beats for your workout and wind down with some jazz or reggae to set the right mood for savasana or your cooldown.

Let us know below, what are some of your favorite songs to workout to?


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