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The Magic of Music

By Supriya Venigalla, MD

There are things that move people: happy memories, sad movies, a child’s laughter, or even a cool summer breeze. Though, there is one thing that moves everybody, and that’s music. Most people have an instinct to coordinate their movements with music—to nod their heads, tap their toes or break out in dance—even if they repress that instinct in many situations.

According to the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, music distracts people from pain and fatigue, elevates mood, increases endurance, and in exercise it reduces perceived effort and even promotes metabolic efficiency. We can convert this innate desire to move into something useful by integrating music into our daily lives.

During medical school, I had a sixteen-year-old patient who was involved in a car crash that left him physically challenged. I witnessed rapid improvement in his stability and mobility once we incorporated music into his rehabilitation.

Twitter reveals plenty evidence of the beneficial effects of integrating music into workouts: “I get so lost in the music when I work out. You’ll never see me happier than when I’m in the zone,” tweets @MasonEverett15.

Studies done by Len Kravitz, PhD on the effect of music on exercise (respiration, heart rate, aerobic fitness, physical strength, and rehabilitation of gait disorders) reveals intriguing results:

  • Both respiratory and heart rates tend to rise or fall depending on the tempo of the music. If you’re planning on participating in an intense workout, select music that depicts the intensity of the activity. This will better prepare you for the exertion.
  • Your grip strength and muscle tension increases with stimulating music.
  • Your performance during aerobic activity is positively influenced.
  • Your mental attitude becomes more positive.

Wondering how to get started? No worries! In this day and age, we are lucky to have technology available that combine music and workouts. One of them is GoTunes for iPhone, a free music and fitness app for creating and discovering customized streaming workout playlists. Another is PaceDJ for Android, a free app that determines the BPM (tempo) of each song saved on your phone’s SD card, allows you to set your target pace, and creates customized pacing mixes for exercise.

Now that you know the almost magical effects of music, here are some great suggestions for your workout playlist:

  1. Afroki ft. Bonnie McKee – Neon Future 1 – Steve Aoki & Afrojack
  2. Fall Out Boy – Centuries
  3. Cashmere Cat – Mirror Maru
  4. Jennifer Lopez – Let’s Get Loud
  5. Beyonce – Crazy in Love


EDITOR’S NOTE: Make sure to use caution if you use earphones! It’s important to be aware of your surroundings at all times. We want to ensure you put safety first when you “Move more Live more”!