Moisture-wicking workout gear? Check. Supportive sneakers? Check. Heart-pumping playlist? Not so fast. If you’re not a die-hard runner, chances are you like to plug in while out on a jog, but nothing can make you want to turn around faster than not having the proper playlist on repeat. (Sorry, T. Swift, but your first album of high school breakup songs really isn’t helping me power through.)
There is nothing better than walking into your favorite class and feeling the music run through your body. It prepares you to power through your class with endless motivation and can turn any frown upside down. Turns out, there’s a scientific reason for why music puts you in the best mood ever: it actually impacts your brain.
The study, done by Aarhus University found a distinct relationship between music or noise and the impact it plays on your mood and emotions. The findings suggest that music regulates brain dopamine, a neurotransmitter strongly involved in emotional behavior and mood regulation. However, the impact is different from person to person, so obviously more research is needed.
Why are these findings so important though? Because it goes way beyond music putting you in a better mood. Tiziana Quarto, Ph.D. and study author said, “more importantly, these findings encourage the search for personalized music-based interventions for the treatment of brain disorders associated with aberrant dopaminergic neurotransmission as well as abnormal mood and emotion-related brain activity.”
Pretty groundbreaking if you ask us.
Listening to music
The right lineup of songs can keep you going strong throughout a hard workout. One study that analyzed auditory-motor synchronization and the motivational impact of music found that music with a prominent and consistent beat could encourage runners to move more quickly, and that running to a specific tempo helped improve their energy level and oxygen intake over time.
However, some runners say they burn out faster if their pump-up song is quicker than they can run or if they get bored and tune out. It’s smart to set a playlist with varying tempos and continue adding songs so you’re not stuck listening to the same 80s rock renditions. Keep in mind a song of about 155 beats per minute would average out to approximately a 9-minute and 30-second mile. Check out songbpm.com to find out how your favorite tunes add up. Your playlist can do more than just entertain. It helps you keep pace and makes it easier to track your breathing, so choose a lineup that will push and motivate you. Cue Beyonce.
Listening to a podcast
If you’re tired of your usual mix of tunes, it could be time to cross over to the world of podcasts. A Runner’s World poll found that nearly 20 percent of runners listen to podcasts while jogging. While you might think paying attention to a show and your run would prove difficult, some runners say their workouts go by quicker when they’re occupied with the plot and story of a podcast. You could even find yourself not wanting the run to end until your episode finishes. However, unlike music, podcasts don’t offer a steady beat, so you may find yourself running slower than your normal pace.
In this case, you may consider starting your run with a pump-up song to establish a steady rhythm, and then switch over to an episode. Popular shows to accompany a workout include Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me, Comedy Bang Bang and RadioLab. With hundreds of episodes to choose from in a wide variety of topics, you are sure to find the perfect podcast running buddy.
What you should listen to while working out
Choosing your next iTunes download could all depend on your workout routine. If you like to track your reps or measure your breathing, flow some upbeat songs through your earbuds. You won’t get distracted by trying to track a podcast storyline, and research shows that running to a specific tempo may help improve your running economy and allow you to move more quickly.
If you would rather forget about the act of working out while actually working out, stream a podcast. Some say when they listen to an episode while running they’re able to stay out for a longer period because the story keeps their mind off of the task. That sounds like music to our ears (pun intended!).