Put on Your Favorite Tunes to Increase Your Workout

Aerobic dance got its start in the 1970s when Jackie Sorenson, inspired by Dr. Kenneth Cooper’s research on the benefits of aerobics, decided to put Dr. Cooper’s theory to the test by setting aerobic routines to music. Sorenson proved that combining aerobic and dance was a fun and effective way to burn calories. Soon, this craze swept the nation, opening the doors to countless aerobic dance classes being created in gyms everywhere.

In the 1980s, Jane Fonda burst onto the scene with her aerobic dance videos. And I can’t neglect my mom’s favorite, Richard Simmons’ Sweatin to the Oldies.

Today, aerobic dance classes incorporate a variety of dance styles, including Zumba, Barre (ballet), Bollywood, Hip Hop and even Country Line dancing.

As Sorenson and others proved through the years, adding music to a workout can make the exercise more fun and exciting.

Research has found that music increases endurance and exercise performance. In one study, people who worked out with music exercised longer than those without it. The study also showed that working out with music resulted in higher maximum heart rate.

In another study, individuals who listened to music enjoyed the exercise more than those who didn’t.

Music can make us feel happy, relaxed, sad and even angry. It can inspire us, empower us and motivate us. It is not uncommon to see athletes wearing their ear buds before a competition. We clamor for days after a sports events, dying to know what our favorite athlete was listening to before their event. When the photo of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps wearing headphones before his swim competition in the Rio 2016 games was published, the most popular question after he won was “what was he listening to.” We want to know so we can add that song or album to our playlist, hoping it will motivate us as strongly.

But everybody’s music preferences are different. What motivates Phelps may not work for me. While Phelps prefers a mix of music with artists like Eminem and Lil Wayne, my exercise go-to is Big Hair Bands of the 80s. Nothing gets me more motivated than “Don’t Stop Believin’” by my favorite band Journey. Or, “Jump” by Van Halen or Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” But when I really don’t want to walk that extra mile, Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” will take me there.

No matter what you like - Country, Rap, Pop, R&B or 80s - when you exercise, in the words of Shannon, just “Let the music play.”