Bang your head, work your body

January 19, 2012 —

For a truly effective work-out, I think music is as important as a full water bottle and a good pair of tennis shoes. Music does more than take one’s mind off one’s burning muscles, though: Neuroscientist Robert Zatorre recently told National Public Radio’s Linda Wertheimer that music and exercise are linked.

“Music has some kind of privileged access to the motor system,” Zatorre said. “When you are perceiving very rhythmic sounds, particularly those that are used in music, these sounds engage the areas in networks of the brain that allow us to move and in particular synchronize different muscle groups.

These might rev up your work-out.

“What’s critical in the experiments that we’ve done is the rhythmic organization,” he continued. “Whether that’s dancing or doing calisthenics or doing aerobics, it’s all the same mechanism. It’s this privileged link between the auditory system and the motor system.”

I’m not too picky about the music I listen to while exercising, so long as it has rhythm, drive and volume. Some of my DMU Wellness Center favorites are a Lady Gaga dance mix and some snappy salsa tunes. If I’m working out with my iPod, you’ll likely find me sweating to the Foo Fighters or Offspring.

NPR has compiled several work-out music collections – from guitar to gospel to a “Rocky Balboa metal montage” – and invites listeners to suggest their favorite musical motivators.

What’s in your ears when you exercise?


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