The Pick-Me-Up Playlist
If you’re starting to be more active after Lap Band, Florida is one of the very best places to do it. Though summers can be sweltering in the Sunshine State, it’s tough to resist the pull of our bright blue sunny skies, endless sandy beaches and the greenery that seems to force itself into every nook and cranny.
But the Florida weather isn’t always enough to get us motivated to move. Every now and then, we all need a way to pump ourselves up for a workout, or even just a push to keep moving through that last exhausting mile. Fortunately, the answer may be right here at your computer—you need a workout playlist!
Music is a scientifically-proven motivator, a powerful force that can help us work harder, move faster and keep going even when we feel spent. It can both distract and excite you, pushing fatigue to the back of your head or pushing you further to spite your weariness. We perceive less effort when we listen to music, and training to a beat can even enhance your endurance.
Getting your steps in sync to some of your favorite tracks is one of the best ways to keep yourself motivated and optimize your performance, no matter what activity you’re tackling! Here are some tips for putting together the perfect playlist for your workout.
Crank up the tempo.
When it comes to exercise music, upbeat tunes are definitely the best choice. Synchronizing your workout to up-tempo songs can help you subconsciously work harder—one study even showed that working out to high-energy songs can improve your endurance by 15 percent more than exercising in silence. Upbeat music also activates a part of your brain known as the ascending reticular activating system, which can help give you a mental psyche boost.
Researchers say that the optimal speed is typically between 120 and 140 beats per minute (BPM)—as a point of reference, Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” is 139 BPM. Of course, you may not want to start at this speed—you can turn down the tempo for your warm-up and gradually build up to quicker beats as you get deeper into your workout. Building a playlist with tempos that shift with the intensity of your activity is a great way to manage your energy throughout exercise—you can even pick songs with BPMs that match the heart rate you’d like to hit. To figure out the BPM of your favorite songs, check out this great tool.
Bust out your favorites.
Part of what makes music so motivational is the way it affects each of us personally. Listening to a song you love that reminds you of good times will pump you up more than one you’ve never heard; conversely, listening to a song that reminds you of bad times may slow you down or become emotionally distracting.
Because we tend to like songs more the more we hear them, the high-energy songs you’ve loved the longest will be go-to choices for your workout playlist. Sometimes, this can also mean songs that have had a big cultural impact or remind you of perseverance—think “Chariots of Fire.” Even if you wouldn’t listen to this song in a million years at home, its melody has been used during more inspiring sporting events and movies than just about any other, which is why many people can’t help but feel stimulated and motivated by it.
Mix it up.
Listening to the same playlist of 10 songs you’ve loved since high school may quickly get boring, especially if you’re working out every day. Be sure to switch up your tunes regularly to keep the motivational juices flowing—listening to a song too much may ruin its inspirational influence. Try taking a trip down memory lane by digging through your music collection for some invigorating older stuff, or look for some fresh music from artists you love.
There’s a reason that music and dance have been so closely connected in every culture since the dawn of man—music has an unrivaled ability to make us move. Throw together an iPod playlist, a mix CD or whatever else you’ve got and pop those headphones in—it’s time to push your workout to the next level!
What songs would you add to your pick-me-up playlist? Share your favorite tunes in the comments below.