RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—We all know we should exercise more, if not to shed pounds then to boost our mood, improve our self-esteem, help us feel younger, prevent cancer, and any one of the hundred health-boosting benefits that a few minutes on the treadmill can bestow. But it can be difficult to maintain your enthusiasm for breaking a sweat when each gym session looms before you as nothing more than a boring 40 minutes of pedaling or running in place.
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One surefire way to spice up your exercise routine is to add music. Music can help you get more variety in your exercise by allowing you to vary your pace. It can get you to push yourself harder, and even distract you from the difficulty or length of a workout, says Cedric X. Bryant, PhD, chief science officer at the American Council on Exercise. “There is a tendency of music to increase arousal, the desire to move in time with the tempo,” he says. “It's a way to get people to exercise at a higher pace and distract from discomfort.” And science backs him up. A 2009 study by the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences showed that people on stationary bikes cycled faster and covered more distance when faster music was playing.
Here are 5 ways to crank your next workout up to 11:
# 1: FIND THE RIGHT BEAT
When it comes to finding music that matches your desired effort levels, it's all about beats per minute (BPM), says Kari Dougan, CI, CPT, a personal trainer based in Allentown, PA. “Use 120 to 135 BPM for walking at about four to five miles per hour. For running, you should use 140 to 150 BPM for a 10- or nine-minute mile,” she advises; an easy way to determine BPM is to play a few seconds of your favorite song while watching a stopwatch. Tap out the beats with the music and see how many beats fill five seconds, then multiply that by 12. Pick songs with a repeated chorus for interval training, adds Dougan. You can walk, run, or cycle at one pace during the verses and then go a little faster during the chorus. "Jai Ho" by the Pussycat Dolls is a good choice for intervals.