Your treadmill workout, whether you walk or run, is enhanced when you listen to music. According to a study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), music offers two main benefits to your workout program. The first is an increase in the intensity of your exercise. The second is a stronger feeling of workout enjoyment, plus a decreased feeling of effort.
Minute to Minute
Music is measured in beats per minute, or bpm. This measurement counts how many downbeats are heard during 60 seconds. An easy way to measure bpm is to observe the second hand on a watch while listening to the song. If a beat falls on every second, the song has a bpm of 60. If you hear two beats for every second, the song is approximately 120 bpm. The faster the bpm, the faster the song and the more likely you are to walk or run at an increased speed to keep tempo with the music.
Take It to the Heart
The faster you exercise on the treadmill, the faster your pulse. Your heart rate increases to circulate the oxygen-rich blood to your working muscles. As a guideline for workout intensity and musical selection, ACE recommends listening to music of a bpm that matches your desired heart rate. For example, if you aim to exercise at a heart rate of 140 bpm, select a song that is 140 bpm, such as Tony Basil's classic song "Mickey" or a song that is bound to get stuck in your head, such as "Who Let the Dogs Out?"
Your workout begins with a warm-up and ends with a cooldown. Your pace for the first five minutes and the last five minutes of your exercise session is slower than your walking or running portion. Select warm-up and cooldown songs between 90 and 100 bpm. such as The Backstreet Boys' song "Quit Playing Games with my Heart," or James Blunt's "You're Beautiful." Then, speed up for your fast-walking workout around 140 bpm. If you use treadmill intervals that alternate increases and decreases in speed, you can alternate your musical selections to match your pace. An in-between pace of 120 bpm is found in songs such as Jimmy Cliff's "I Can See Clearly Now" and in 50 Cent's "Candy Shop."
Speed It Up
When running on your treadmill, you want uplifting, motivational and fast-paced music selections. ACE recommends using music between 147 and 169 bpm to elevate your heart rate to the same bpm. Songs that fall into this category are those such as Avril Lavign's "Skater Boy" or "Naked Eyes" and "Always Something There to Remind Me." If you are exercising near 140 bpm and want a speed-burst in the middle of the workout, Devo's "Whip It" picks up the pace to 158 bpm.