Exercise Music: Tunes to Get Fit By
Want to have more fun and work out harder? Exercise with music, experts say.
Whether it's Bach or Beck that's music to your ears, listening to music
while you exercise may improve your fitness, commitment, and enjoyment.
"Music enhances a workout, it makes you work harder without realizing
it, and it makes the workout go by faster," says fitness expert Petra
Kolber, a spokesperson for the IDEA Health and Fitness Association. "Music
takes exercise from just being exercise to being an experience."
And music may do more than that. A study in 2005 found that listening to
music while exercising boosted participants' weight loss and helped exercisers
Researchers tracked a small group of overweight or obese women over 24 weeks
while they dieted, exercised, and met in weekly group sessions promoting
lifestyle change. Half the women were given CD players and told to listen to
the music of their choice while they walked.
All participants lost weight. Weight loss and reduction in body fat were
greater for those who listened to music while they walked.
These women were also more consistent with their exercise, as well as the
requirements of the study overall, says researcher Christopher Capuano, PhD.
The second factor, he says, is even more significant than the losses.
"Music promoted better compliance with the program," which, in turn,
resulted in weight loss, says Capuano, director of the school of psychology at
Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, N.J. "It's not that music causes
you to lose weight. It causes you to be more adherent."
Capuano adds that music can make exercise seem easier -- or at least keep
you from thinking about how hard it is.
"The more unfit you are, the more difficult exercise is," Capuano
says. "Music helps break the monotony of exercise and provide a distraction
from the physical exertion."
Ken Alan, a personal trainer and the owner of Aerobeat Music, has been
mixing music for group classes for two decades now.
"Whether it's classical, rock 'n' roll, heavy metal or rap, if someone
enjoys a particular type of music, it can be very motivating to help them get
through a workout," Alan says. "It can help the time go by faster and
it can reduce the perceived intensity or exertion."
When Tommy Woelfel guides people through a Spinning class at Crunch fitness
in Los Angeles, he is very attuned to the music.
"I choose music that fits specifically to the chosen activity," he
For example, the slow, steady, driving beat of "Running up That
Hill," by Placebo (a remake of an old Kate Bush song) takes participants in
Woelfel's Spinning class up an envisioned incline that they match by adjusting
the resistance on their bikes.
"Working with a partner can push you," says Woelfel. "And music
can do that, too."