Jul 102012

Author: Corinne Winthrop

By Corinne Winthrop

Whether students gather at the campus Recreation Center to train for a summer marathon or to get in shape for the annual “Undie Run” in May, they all have one thing in common – most of them are plugged in to headphones. Although most of these runners do not think twice about popping in headphones before a workout, listening to music, specifically fast paced music, while exercising is both beneficial to the mind as well as the body.

A study done by British researchers demonstrates how participants listening to upbeat music at a faster tempo covered more distance on a bike compared to when they listened to the same song at a slower speed.

Bikers chose six songs to listen to during three different workouts. Tempos of the songs were altered for each workout. One played at normal tempo, one played 10 percent slower, and one played 10 percent faster. After participants exercised while listening to the faster paced songs their entire workout was affected. Participants’ heart rates increased, they pedaled faster and more often said they liked the song more.

Researchers of the study point out there are correlations between exercise and music but because so many scientific aspects are involved, they say it is hard to piece together why such a correlation exists.

Colorado State University instructor in the department of health and exercise science, Ryan Donovan, can attest to these findings.

“If I do need a little extra motivation for my run, I will listen to any type of upbeat, fast-tempo music,” Donovan said. “The musical stimulation may indeed help the individual run slightly faster for a short period of time.”

While the professionals show both the benefits of music on the body and specific precautions to take, sophomore health and exercise science major, Kat Laws, described how listening to music motivates her workouts.

“[Music is] good for timing, motivation, and gets my mind off the strenuous exercises I’m doing,” Laws explained. “If I hear an awesome song I get excited and just run with it. Music is a huge motivator for me.”

Plugging in her headphones acts as a distraction for Laws and helps keep her breathing on the same beat as the song.

Although Donovan says a runner’s performance is based on overall fitness level and training status, athletes can still reap rewards from music for a short period of time.

He makes sure to remind runners who are exercising outside of safety issues concerning headphones.

The number of accidents involving distracted pedestrians, especially runners with headphones in, has tripled from six years ago, says the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Their research further shows 3/4 of those accidents have resulted in death.

“Runners that do choose to listen to music while running outside need to be aware of their surroundings at all times,” Donovan said. “This means being able to hear cars, bikes, other people, etc.”

Runners should either leave one ear bud out at all times or turn their music volume lower in order to ensure safety.

“My workout is overall enhanced by music,” Laws said. “Putting good sounds into a mind that’s ready to run is like having the right playlist for any road trip.”


Great tunes to run to


In search of fresh, upbeat music for working out? Jog.fm has all one could need, and then some. Runners can either rifle through the popular running songs or enter his or her mile time to get specific songs with corresponding beats per minute (BPM). The faster the mile time is, the higher the BPM.


Most Popular Running Songs from Jog.fm


Song and Artist                                                                    Best for a Mile Time             BPM

Dog Days are Over by Florence and The Machine                 10:00                                       150

Hey Ya! by OutKast                                                                          9:00                                        160

Only Girl (In the World) by Rihanna                                        12:24                                        126

Animal by Neon Trees                                                                   10:12                                        148

Run-Around by Blues Traveler                                                    9:54                                          151

Here are some of Kat Laws’ favorites:

Hang Me Up to Dry by Cold War Kids                                 6:24                                         93 (x2)

Colors by Xaphoon Jones

Go Do by Jonsi

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