“Let’s Get Physical.” I must have done a million grapevines on the aerobics floor to Olivia Newton John’s number one Billboard hit.
I have always believed the reason that music and exercise go hand-in-hand is music’s ability to distract you from the exertion. I’ve blasted lots of great music over the past 40 years changing thousands of bodies – and, not surprisingly, I’ve experienced some hearing loss.
In his 2010 book, Costas Karageorghis, an expert on the effects of music on exercise, says that listening to music while running can boost performance by as much as 15 percent. He calls music “a legal drug for athletes.”
We’re not talking about just any kind of music – we’re talking about music that stimulates and engages the entire brain. We’re talking about music with a certain tempo – a certain number of beats per minute or BPM.
For fitness music the sweet spot is 120 to 140 BPM – a tempo that roughly corresponds to the average person’s heart rate during a workout, and a pace that corresponds to the range of many of today’s most popular songs.
Of course, we all have our “go-to” music, but who doesn’t appreciate a few great suggestions? I asked two awesome Orangetheory coaches to share some of their favorites.
Tristen, a coach at Orangetheory Cooper City and South Beach lists “Boneless,” by Steve Aoki, and “Burnin’ Up,” by Jessie J., among his top picks. Among oldies, he says “Strike it Up,” by Black Box, is always a good choice.
Casey, a coach at my original Cooper City studio – Ellen’s Ultimate Workout – loves “Greyhound,” by Swedish House Mafia, but loves to bring it home with “Push It,” by Salt-N-Pepa, and “It Takes Two,” by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock.
Me? I like Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love and anything Beyonce and Jay Z. But my blood really starts to move when I hear “September,” by Earth Wind & Fire.
Creating fantastic playlists and getting great recommendations is a breeze these days with programs and apps like RockMyRun. I remember spending many an hour back in the day creating aerobic music tapes in my living room. But that’s another post.
So crank up the music and give it all you’ve got. And when you’re done and want to read some really great research on music and the brain, check out The Listening Program, a music listening method that improves brain fitness at any age or level of ability.