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Motivating Tunes: Choosing the Perfect Workout Music

Workout music should make you happy.

(Photo: Wavebreakmedia Ltd / iStock / Thinkstock)

Picture this: You’re at the gym, getting some cardio done on a treadmill, when you happen to glance over at someone pumping iron ahead of you. He’s in great shape and shows no signs of stopping, which makes sense once you notice how focused he is. Then, you see his headphones. It makes you wonder – what kind of music is he playing?

Whether you’re a member of your local gym or like to work out at home, chances are good that you listen to music while you exercise. Most people use it as a motivator, and for good reason – music has been scientifically proven to positively influence your performance. If you like to put on music while you’re cleaning the house, you’ll understand why.

With all of the various genres and artists out there, there must be some secret to choosing the best workout music. Should we match music the right beats-per-minute to our activity? Is there a genre that never fails to get the body moving?

According to Kellie Roman, a National Academy of Sports Medicine master instructor, trainer and educator, it’s much simpler than that.

“The bottom line is, choose the music that makes you happy,” she said.

Roman taught fitness classes in New York City for over 20 years that included kickboxing, step aerobics and high-intensity interval training. For large classes or sessions with small groups, her go-to is pop music. Think Top 40, mainstream – anything from Taylor Swift to Jay Z.

But now that Roman works as a personal trainer, the music she plays during a session is tailored to the client’s taste.
The reason?

“Music that makes us happy is often tied to good memories,” Roman said. “Listening to it changes us from the inside out.”

We all have a genre or artist that makes us feel good, whether it be classic rock or heavy metal, old-school Eminem or new-school Florida Georgia Line. If we like what we’re listening to, our desire to move increases. At home, that might translate to dancing, but in a workout session, that translates to working harder. Plus, the distraction from fatigue helps.

So if you’re looking to make a workout playlist, start with the music that makes you feel good and go from there. If you still need some help picking music, Roman says that anything with a strong bass line always gets her clients moving.

And, if all else fails, try Michael Jackson or Justin Timberlake.

Any new exercise routine should be approached with caution. Consider your physical limitations and always consult your doctors.

Ready to get started on that New Year’s resolution to be fit? Find more advice on exercise and well-being here.

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