There is an absolute connection between music and movement. While I like to unwind with a podcast on the ride home from work, the minute I lace up my shoes and step into the gym, the soothing voices of my favorite podcasters—Chris Monlanphy, Karina Longworth, and PJ Vogt to name a few—are silenced and music takes the center stage. Whether it’s hip hop, pop, rock, funk, or anything in between, nothing puts pep in my step like a great song. Whether it’s Kanye West giving me the “Power” or Bruce Springsteen convincing me that I was really “Born to Run,” music has a huge impact on my workout.
As we discussed previously, music can have a profound effect on the human spirit, but its physiological effects can be just as powerful as the emotional ones. An upbeat song can improve your mood, sure, but it can have a measurable impact on your athletic performance, too.
It’s no coincidence that many of the songs on our playlist our from movies, either—whenever we need to get out of the house and train like we’re in a movie montage, it’s often the songs that were in real life movie montages that do the trick.
MUSIC AFFECTS YOUR WORKOUT
Runner’s World suggests that entertainment and training can work together as “entrainment.” The brain’s tendency to synchronize with music saw increased heart rates and peak power output in a study published in the journal Psychology of Sport & Exercise.
Why does this work? Multiple studies suggest that an innate sense of tempo-pace synchronization makes us want to move to keep up with the music. And while I love the encouragement to stay hydrated, this is the reason “Pure Water” by Migos is a go-to on my running playlist.
This knowledge is nothing new; according to Scientific American, as a study as far back as 1911 found that cyclists pedaled faster while a band was playing than when it was silent.
Researching this information hardly shocked me. The minute I hoist myself out of bed in the morning, the music goes on. Whether Prince suggests “Let’s Go Crazy” or the Beach Boys send me “Good Vibrations,” I opt for a morning melody instead of a cup of joe. Science agrees here, too, with a recent study suggesting music can reduce the “sleep inertia” that weighs us down the first hour of our day. Whether it’s the effort it takes to go an extra mile on the treadmill or the effort it takes to simply get out of bed in the morning, music gives us a little extra stimulation to conquer the physical tasks that stand before us.
Regardless of time or place, music has enabled people to push themselves physically. Soldiers marched to war alongside drummers and fifers; even gladiator fights were accompanied by music from drums and trumpets. While we thankfully have much lower stakes when push ourselves physically today, the through line is clear: music can bring out our inner athletes.
In this unusual time of isolation and doubt, taking care of ourselves physically is as important as ever. Employing a little “entrainment” in your daily routine is an easy way to get yourself off the couch and get your blood pumping. I’ll be saving the James Blake and Stan Getz for bedtime.