The One Secret to Help You Overcome Your Fitness Plateau - Alliance Integrative Medicine

The One Secret to Help You Overcome Your Fitness Plateau

As an avid music lover, it infiltrates every part of my life and certain songs trigger powerful memories from different stages of my life. Whenever I hear “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” by C+C Music Factory I think of my dad and random dance parties in the basement when I was a little girl. Music has gotten me through some of the highest and lowest points of my life. It is a daily part of my everyday routine from what song my morning alarm plays to what inspires me to run that extra mile. No matter what type of music you like, melodies and beats have a universal language on an unconscious level that we can all relate to.

Have you ever noticed your workouts are more effective when you listen to music? Does it depend on the type of music?

Music stimulates various neural pathways in our “ancient” brain that taps into our emotions and memories. The nucleus accumbens is our pleasure center in the brain (controls sex, food, addiction) that is also triggered by music. It also activates the amygdala which is where we process emotion and the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for our decision making and personality. Research also shows that what we blast through our headphones can actually impact our endurance and perceived fatigue. “Before you become aware of the fatigue the music will block out of the sensations of fatigue and effort so you won’t fully notice them” – David-Lee Priest, a music researcher in England.

What seems to matter most are the beats per minute (BPM) of a tune as well as the synchronicity (or rhythm of the bass sound). According to Costas Karageorphis, head of research at School of Sport and Education in London and leading authority on music and exercise, he describes finding a “sweet spot” for your workout. In his most recent study (Journal of Sports and Exercise Psychology), subjects that listened to moderate temp music (BPM ~125) had 15 percent greater output of endurance than those who did not. Previous research stated the faster the music, the more intense workout and better results. Turns out not to be true! To maximize your workout, try to match the rhythm or your heart rate with the music.

BPM Fitness Guide

Warm up/Cool down: 80-90 BPM

Low-moderate intensity: 120-140 BPM

High intensity: 145-160 BPM

Whether you are a cyclist, runner, yoganista, swimmer or all of the above – the type of music you choose can have a profound psychological and physiological benefit on your health. So what are you waiting for? Create your own playlist or borrow mine! (Tangerine! app helps you create custom BPM playlists from your existing iTunes library).

Dr. Tiffany’s Shape Up Playlist

  1. Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys – 94 bpm
  2. Everybody Dance Now by C+C Music Factory – 115 bpm
  3. Diamonds (Remix) by Rihanna – 126 bpm
  4. Neurotic Society by Lauryn Hill – 133 bpm
  5. Beat It by Michael Jackson – 140 bpm
  6. Gangham Style by Psy – 134 bpm
  7. Born This Way by Lady Gaga – 131 bpm
  8. Starships by Nicki Minaj – 125 bpm
  9. Hall of Fame by Script & Will.I.Am – 87 bpm

We all like different genres of music that speaks to our soul during certain parts of our day.

What’s your favorite song to work out to? Leave in the comment section below!

By Dr. Tiffany Lester

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