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Published on April 03, 2017

woman exercising listening to music

Believe What You Hear, Music Makes Exercise Easier

Athletes from the pros to pee-wee football know full-well what many of us might overlook: Music makes a difference.

For generations, pre-game rituals have included certain tunes. Athletic trainers attest: you’ll get more reps, run more miles and generally work harder – for longer periods – if you harness those harmonies.

“It’s hard to pick a specific genre of music, because it’s always a personal preference, but the beat is really the key, and it can kick up the way you work out,” said Avera Sports Training Specialist Mark “Coach Rozy” Roozen. “It’s not just a psychological edge, either, the research shows. Music, especially songs with higher beats per minute (BPM) can give you an edge when you’re running, lifting or even cooling down.”

Music can transport you from the grind of that bike ride up a hill to another place, Roozen said.

“When you can focus on something else and disassociate with the strain or exertion, you’ll be better off and can go on longer,” he said. “It works not just during, but before and after a workout as well.”

Roozen provided a rough framework for BPM rates for a wide range of activity. Results can vary on personality, but for the most part, the chart below can help you experiment with BPM, and use them to warm up, work out and cool down as well.

“One key is consideration and the other is safety. Wearing headphones can be a distraction especially if you’re doing cardio outdoors or running on a busy sidewalk or roadway, so don’t use them if it’s unsafe,” Roozen said. “In the gym, you can’t have everyone blasting their own songs at their own stations, so headphones work better in those situations.”

The Internet is awash with sites that will identify the BPM for just about any song, too, so you can evaluate the beats per minute of your favorite songs.

Roozen referred to research that shows when we exercise and develop a “flow state” that music can help us stay in this “autopilot” like state.

“It’s often named ‘getting in the zone’ and many athletes swear by certain songs to get to that place,” he said. “Other athletes will synch their movements to certain songs, and almost everyone knows how rhythm aids us when we do manual work, work out or run. It’s also a good way to boost mood or bring back good memories. So yes, make sure you give it a try the next time you lift, run or hit the elliptical.”

Drop the Beats with Coach Rozy

Coach Rozy recommends these guidelines for beats per minute when it comes to warming up, working out or cooling down:

Activity Recommended Beats per Minute Range



Moderate Cardiovascular Exercise

Faster Cardio Exercise

Cool Down





120 or below

Reviewed by Avera News Team

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