Relationship Between Music and Heart Rate

Music can set the entire tone of your workout — it can motivate you to push harder, encourage you to move faster, and help you relax into a cool down stretch. When you recognize the strong connection between your heartbeat and music, you can create the ideal workout playlist from start to finish.

Music can alleviate stress during exercise. (Image: Hero Images/Hero Images/GettyImages)

Correlation Between Heartbeat and Music

If you've ever taken a group fitness class at the gym, you are no stranger to the idea that music can play a big role in how hard you're working. Oftentimes, the beat of the song dictates the pace at which you move, whether you are aware of it or not. This is why it's important to understand that certain songs may be better suited for specific portions of your workout.

According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the speed and tempo of your music can be broken down to a science. The organization says it's ideal to start your warmup with a slower song, approximately 120 to 126 beats per minute, and then gradually increase intensity and beat cadence as you begin the bulk of your workout.

For weight lifting and general cardio, ACE recommends music between 128 and 135 beats per minute. Simply add this faster, more intense music after your warmup song(s) and your body will naturally pick up the pace, thus driving a faster heart rate. Songs on the higher range of this spectrum are fantastic for high-intensity interval training workouts, where you want to push yourself to at least 80 percent or more of your maximum effort.

For your cool down or stretch, select music that is less than 100 beats per minute. This tempo may also be appropriate for certain yoga classes, too. If you are a fitness trainer looking for music to play in a class setting, there are several companies out there that offer royalty free music.

Exploring Music and Pulse Further

Selecting a great music playlist has many health advantages beyond just exercise, too. Harvard Health Publishing reports that listening to music can also ease stress and anxiety and even enhance recovery from strokes. This is because music not only helps regulate your heart rate, but it also engages many parts of your brain including attention, memory, emotion and more.

For the reasons stated above, music therapy has become an increasingly interesting topic of research. According to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy is "the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program."

It's truly amazing how music is being used to improve overall health. Music therapy has been proven effective in supporting people with overall physical rehabilitation needs, facilitating movement, increasing people's motivation to become engaged in their treatment, and providing emotional support. It has also been used on patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, Alzheimer's disease and more.

It's important to note that in addition to beats per minute, many organizations agree that personal preferences in music — interests, genre, nostalgia, overall song message — have a lot to do with the success of this therapy.

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