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Pick the Best Workout Music - According to Science

Bariatric Surgery News & Research | Adelaide Bariatric Centre

11 Dec 2013 12:48 PM


Anyone who’s ever worked out or gone for a jog with an iPod strapped to their arm is well aware that music can enhance any exercise session. But are the benefits mainly motivational and fun, or does it actually improve the workout?

Numerous scientific studies have shown that listening to music does, in fact, provide objective benefits when working out. Dr Costas Karageorghis, associate professor of sport psychology at Brunel University in the UK, has studied the effects of music on physical performance for more than two decades. Dr Karageorghis has found that music can indeed provide boost your performance during exercise - by as much as 15 per cent.

According to Dr Karageorghis' research, one of the key factors is the tempo of a song. Ideally, it should be between 120 - 140 beats-per-minute (or BPM). A high proportion of modern dance and rock music fits within that range. Interestingly, it also correlates with the heart rate of the average person (that is, non-elite athletes) during typical exercise.

In one study, which was published in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, Dr Karageorghis got participants to exercise on a treadmill while keeping in strict time to music, which was set at 125 BPM. The volunteers had the option of choosing between either a pop or a rock playlist. When compared to a control group that didn't listen to music, the study participants who exercised in sync to music enjoyed a 15 per cent improvement in endurance.

"The synchronous application of music resulted in much higher endurance," said Dr Karageorghis. "While the motivational qualities of the music impacted significantly on the interpretation of fatigue symptoms right up to the point of voluntary exhaustion."

We’ve put together a list of songs with tempos between 120 - 140 BPM to get you started:

  1. Beat It - Michael Jackson (139 BPM)
  2. Gangnam Style - PSY (132 BPM)
  3. Sexy & I Know It - LMFAO (129 BPM)
  4. Pumped Up Kicks - Foster The People (128 BPM)
  5. Born This Way - Lady Gaga (125 BPM)
  6. Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes (124 BPM)
  7. Breathe - The Prodigy (130 BPM)
  8. Enter Sandman - Metallica (123 BPM)
  9. Uprising - Muse (132 BPM)
  10. Bohemian Like You - The Dandy Warhols (138 BPM)