When the speed and rhythm of a song harmonizes with your own movements, magic seems to be at work — you suddenly feel re-energized and invigorated. But it isn’t actually magic; it’s science, and you can use it to your advantage.
You’ve probably heard about “beats per minute,” or BPM, when it refers to running. The term relates the tempo of a song to your heart rate (each time your heart’s ventricles and atria contract). Documenting the scientific relationship between exercise and music dates back to 1911, when scientists found that cyclists pedaled faster while a band was playing music than when it was silent.
A 2010 study in which subjects’ brain activities were measured with fMRI concluded that our motor systems respond positively to rhythmic beats and timing in music. And in 2012, another study found that cyclists listening to the same music at a certain pedaling speed were found to use 7% less oxygen than their counterparts who were moving to a slower tempo, proving that synchronized music can make us more efficient.
Luckily, the Internet is overflowing with playlists based on song BPM, and sites such as Song BPM can calculate a song’s rate. There are even apps that will play songs based on your current heart rate.
Even if you aren’t training for a marathon, you can still check out our list below to see which BPM is best for you for a range of activities. Let the tempo of a song motivate you and your heart rate throughout the day.
When it comes to running, you’re usually measuring your steps per minute, not heart rate. In 1984, running coach Jack Daniels found that elite runners ran at a pace of 180 strides per minute, according to Gizmodo.
Although recent research has found that musical BPM hits a ceiling of increasing motivation at around 145 BPM, Daniels’ work has instilled the idea that music with a BPM range between 170 and 180, or half of that — about 90 — helps foster topnotch running performance, such as speed and endurance.
The sweet spot for inducing sleep is right around 60 BPM. This tempo inspires our brains to release alpha brainwaves, which puts our mind in a relaxed state, according to research at the University of Nevada, Reno. Most flute, Native American and light jazz music will do the trick.
For hitting the books, put on music that ranges between 50 and 80 BPM. Metro UK reported on a study from music service Spotify, which found that math students listening to classical music improved their test scores, while those in humanities found creative excitement in songs that were just a bit faster.
Whether cycling indoors or out, the Indoor Cycling Association recommends songs upward of 180 to 220 BPM to motivate an intense pace of 90 to 110 rotations per minute. Or, for a wider song choice and a less intense experience, try half that at 90 to 110 BPM.
A 2011 study found that older adults who participated in the physical laboring of gardening increased their heart rate as if they were doing light-to-moderate exercise. For example, digging created an average heart rate of about 120 BPM.
Treat your musical choice for gardening as if you were doing a light workout, and stick to songs around that beat or half at 60 BPM.
Of course, with so many types of yoga, something less strenuous could use a slower tempo. The online radio Pandora offers yoga-specific radio stations with songs that have tempos between 60 and 100 BPM.
Moderate indoor skating can produce a heart rate between 140 to 160 BPM, according to the Roller Skater Association International. That’s definitely a workout, and needs energetic tempos.
Published: APR 16, 2015. By Kathleen Wong
Copyright © 2015 Mashable