Women's Health sits down with sports psychologist Paul Penna for a Q&A on the health benefits of music and exercise
Working out to our favourite tunes always makes us happy but does it mean we're exercising better too?There's no such thing as always but if you're listening to the right kind of music for you 9 times out of 10 it will make it easier to exercise or it will improve your performance.
How does music effect the way we exercise?Music effects our mood so it can make us more motivated to exercise by pumping us up or destressing us from a busy day. It can also make exercise a lot less laborious by putting us in a better frame of mind.
On music's motivational powersMusic changes our focus so instead of focusing on sore legs you focus more on the song and may find yourself working harder and for longer. Music also makes it easier to get in a "flow state" which basically means you're working rhythmically in a kind of hypnotised state and are less conscious of the effort you're exerting.
Can music have a negative effect on our workouts?If you're listening to the wrong track then you can get out of the mood. You need to make sure the music you're listening to motivates you for exercise and is the right kind of music for what you want to do.
I recommend having a variety of playlists for different kinds of exercise so upbeat songs like 'Don't You Worry Child by Swedish House Mafia are great for high-intensity exercise while songs like Battle Scars'' by Guy Sebastian can be better to motivate you before exercise or for lower intensity activity.
What are some added bonuses to working out to music?Music can allow you to exercise more effectively and therefore improve your chances of achieving the goals you set. As a by-product this can improve your sleep, your ability to relax and your general mood.
What’s the best way to plan a playlist?I recommend having 4-5 different playlists that can be adapted through your mood and what you want to achieve.
For starters you could have 20 songs that have a fast, consistent beat like Sweet Nothing by Calvin Harris which can help you exercise to that rhythm and then 20 songs with powerful lyrics like Stronger by Kanye West which can inspire you to work harder and longer.
Spotify has pulled together a list of the most popular workout songs and there's some uptempo ones and some more sedate tunes that made the list so you may want to get started with some slower songs and then build up to faster-paced songs as you begin to increase intensity.
Any suggestions for what music is best for running?Everybody runs at a different cadence (number of steps per minute) so there is no one tempo of music that's right for everyone. But generally speaking, music that has a fast and consistent rhythm works well for most people and you can get an idea of the style of music you should be looking for by checking out my running playlist on Spotify.
What are the most popular (exercise) songs we've been listening to lately?The most popular songs tend to be dance music because they are fast tempo, have a strong, consistent beat and uplifting vocals. The top 10 exercise songs that Aussies have been listening to on Spotify over summer are:
2. Thrift Shop feat. Wanz, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
3. Sweet Nothing, Calvin Harris feat. Florence Welch
4. She Wolf (Falling to Pieces) [feat. Sia], David Guetta
5. I Love It feat. Charli XCX, Icona Pop
6. Diamonds, Rihanna
7. We’ll Be Coming Back, Calvin Harris feat. Example
8. Titanium feat. Sia, David Guetta
9. Ni**as in Paris, Jay-Z
10. Bangarang feat. Sirah, Skrillex
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