Music is a powerful motivator during exercise. “The benefits really lie in allowing a person to focus on something other than how hard they’re working,” says Sabrena Jo, a senior exercise scientist at the American Council on Exercise.  With music, your brain takes longer to realize your body is tired. This allows you to work out longer and harder without feeling like you’re putting extra effort.


Here are some smart ways music can enhance your workout, whatever your fitness level.


Optimize your playlist

Beats per minute (BPM) is a measure of music tempo. Selecting music with a BPM that matches your workout pace can boost performance/ “Resistance and strength training trend to need slower beats per minute,” says Jo. “High-impact aerobics or vigorous activities like kickboxing require a faster beat.” The list below, based on information from the American Council on Exercise, provides some general guidelines. When in doubt, 120 BPM is a good one size fits all tempo.


BPM         |Workout 

<100         |yoga, pilates, stretching, walking

100-129   |cycling, dance, rowing

130-160   |Running, martial arts, trampoline


Temp          |Music Genres

Slow            |swing, R&B, reggae, hip-hop, movies scores

Up-tempo  |jazz, disco, broadway show tunes, folk, bhangra

Fast             |salsa, electronic dance music, bluegrass, punk


Dance for cross-training

Cross-training is any supplemental activity you engage in apart from your main sport. If you walk, run, bike, swim, or lift weights almost exclusively, adding one day of cross-training per week can help your performance by strengthening different muscle groups and countering workout boredom or burnout.


Dance offers special cross-training benefits that you wont get from sports. The first is lateral movement, which is often used in physical therapy to promote balance and help prevent injury. Dance is also activity, requiring you to coordinate movements with a partner or group.


Many new dance classes have appeared in recent years, catering to different fitness levels and music preferences. Here are three consider:

-Beginners: Bokwa. Developed by South African dancer, this class is set to mix of African beats and American hip-hop. Moves are easy to follow and allow you to put in a much or little effort as you like.

-Intermediate: BollyX. Inspired by the high-intensity music choreography of Indian “Bollywood” films. Alternates low and high-impact sequences for a full-body cardio workout.

-Advanced: Barre. Created by a ballerina as a form of physical therapy. While the moves are simple, this demanding strength routine can leave you sore for days.


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