It seems listening to music or getting into a TV show helps us as we try to get fitter and perhaps try to shed some unwanted weight.
And there is scientific research that indicates that music can help motivate us and help with endurance.
Costas Karageorghis, a sports psychologist at England’s Brunel University, has been researching the impact of music on exercise for two decades.
Without going into all the science, his basic premise is that selecting the right music can be beneficial.Music that matches the rhythm of our motions or heartbeat creates a synchronicity that helps keep us moving.
Syncing beats per minute with an exercise pace increases your efficiency. In one study, subjects who cycled in time to music found that they required 7 percent less oxygen to do the same work when compared to music just playing in the background.
Karageorghis’ findings basically show that synchronized music increases endurance by 15 percent.
Perhaps more importantly, but not as scientifically, is that music drowns out that voice in our heads that may be telling us to stop when we have plenty more left in us.
This came to mind for me recently. A few times when I went to the YMCA, I forgot my iPod and my earphones.
When I am on the recumbent bike, I usually tune into HGTV and learn about home projects or real estate that I can’t afford. Minus the headphones, I still watched and read the closed captioning. But I noticed my mind wandered and I seem to be clock watching.
When I do my strength training, I usually have my iPod on me. I recently made a workout playlist of tunes by which to exercise.
The songs range from pop tunes like KT Tunstall’s Black Horse and the Cherry Tree, Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” and Lady GaGa’s “Poker Face.”
I especially like some of my favorite oldies like The Commodores “Brick House,” Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” and Madonna and Michael Jackson’s dance beat songs when I am exercising. I even have a little country thrown in from Little Big Town, Kenny Chesney and Sugarland.
But the music that really keeps me moving is any of the upbeat tunes by the Black Eyed Peas, from “Boom Boom Pow,” “Pump It” or “I Gotta Feeling.”
I can’t listen to the Peas and not feel like moving.
Minus my music, I noticed I was less motivated and my mind drifted during my weight lifting when I didn’t have Fergie and her boys booming hip hop rhythms in my ears.
Other fellow Health Questers say they like to listen to music or watch TV when they work out too.
Ellen Garrard, who’s already lost 10 pounds and is in the top 10 overall, says she likes to listen to music or podcasts on her iPod. “I like a wide range of music, from KC & the Sunshine Band, The Weathergirls, Flashdance, The Staple Singers, Marvin Gaye, The Rolling Stones, The Dixie Chicks, Cameo, the Caesars, The Gap Band etc.”
She also listens to the “Fat to Fit Radio” podcast.
She’s trying to go from walking to running, so she’s listening to podcasts for running “Couch to 5K.”
“I’ve found that in order to stay on program, I need to immerse myself in fitness-related reading material, and the podcasts also help reinforce me and keep me focused,” says Ellen.
Tara Nolan, who has lost 12 pounds, says “70s music all the way! Amber at the YMCA has created a 70s theme spin class. The music really pushes me because it takes me back to a time in my mind that was fun and carefree and I was much thinner, with a lot less aches and pains!”
Another top 10 success story is Amanda DeWitt who says, “I love to listen to music that gets me pumped — Lady Gaga's ‘Just Dance’ or Christina Aguilera's ‘Fighter.’ Music that just makes me feel strong and gives me the energy to keep going.”
Carole Hunter adds, “Since I usually work out at Pro Performance, it is whatever the trainer wants. When I get a chance to get to the Y, I like to watch TV and it will usually be the news … or I will watch one of the home or cooking channels. It is hard to get into a TV program while working out, or for me anyway. I would like to be able to read, but that is almost impossible. I saw a commercial this weekend for audio books, that might be something good.”
Joanne Peach works out in the morning and she likes to vary what she watches on TV. “Sometimes it is HGTV and sometimes it is NBC Today show and sometimes it is “Reba.”
Of course, some folks like to unplug when they exercise.
Doug Walker, my Rome News-Tribune colleague and Health Quester, loves to walk outdoors. And he prefers the sounds of nature.
“I don't like to wear headphones. When I am out walking, I like to take in the scenery. I feel like it is an exercise in alertness. I enjoy listening to birds sing, trying to figure out where they are. I love watching the squirrels fidget and really enjoy people watching and sharing ‘hellos’ with folks along the trail.”
He’s on to something there. I do notice when I don’t have my earphones on, I interact with people more. Those smiles and “good morning” greetings can be real pick-me-ups too.
But sometimes I’ve just got to have Fergie belting: “Listen up y’all ‘cause this is it. The beat that I am bangin’ is delicious.”
Charlotte Atkins is editor of the Rome News-Tribune and Magnolia magazine. This blog is sponsored by Georgia Power, which is also a Health Quest sponsor and supporter, for which Charlotte is very grateful.