Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Playlist Power

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Playlist Power

Article excerpt

You're at the bottom of a steep hill, out of breath, and there's no way you can will yourself to the top. And then the opening trumpets of the "Rocky" theme song surge through your ear buds and before you know it you're coasting to the crest, feeling like the champion prize-fighter.

It's not just runners who have felt the power of music push them through a workout. Walk into any gym and dance beats will be blasting over the speakers, and dozens of exercisers will be plugged into headphones.

Numerous studies prove what we've experienced firsthand: music increases motivation and intensity while offering a distraction from pain.

"Music has the capacity to change our mood and energize us very quickly," said Dr. Jay P. Granat, a River Edge psychotherapist and founder of the sports psychology website

Recent research shows that there is an optimum music tempo for moderate workouts - 120 to 140 beats per minute, which matches the pace of most commercial dance music and a person's average heart rate during exercise. Costas Karageorghis, an associate professor of sports psychology at England's Brunel University, found that moderate exercisers who listened to music that matched their heart rate showed improvement in efficiency and endurance.

"Research suggests that music helps to synchronize the body. When we are listening to something with a faster beat, our bodies want to match the beat," said Dr. Joel Ingersoll of the Center for Psychological Health and Fitness in Oradell.

Dana White of Waldwick won't listen to music while running outside for safety reasons, but when she hits the gym, usually twice a week, her iPod is essential to getting through a workout, she said. Not a fan of top-40 music, she prefers indie artists like Florence and the Machine or older tunes from the Rolling Stones. "I have to like the music. It has a way of taking my mind off of what's going on," she said.

Music is not only important for cardiovascular workouts. Felise Berman, founder Shiva Shanti Yoga School in Rutherford, said music with traditional Vedic chants, in ancient Sanskrit, helps students get into a yoga session. "By having this music play behind you in the class you're connecting with the sounds of this ancient practice," she said. …

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