For the third garage sale in a row, my very first MP3 player did not sell. Each time, I've reduced the price. It's in great shape, has decent storage capacity, and comes with all the accoutrement you'd need to use it (armband, computer program, etc). And yet, it still sits in the pile of "did not sell" in my garage, feeling the sentimentality that I attach to it contrasted with the bitterness of my spouse ("why can't it just go to Goodwill!?"). Seeing my MP3 player not sell again made me walk down memory lane and remember how my exercise life changed when I started using it during workouts. Alas, this post is not about garage sales or my proclivity toward being a packrat. It's about motivation... and the amazing things that music can help you accomplish.
I got my first MP3 player in 2005. Prior to that, I would walk with my CD player in hand. I couldn't run with it because it would cause the CDs to "skip" and it's also just plain hard to run with a portable CD player... not to mention at that time, I didn't even think I had the physical ability to run. When I'd go to the gym, I'd place the CD player on the treadmill or elliptical console and more than once suffered the embarrassment of it toppling off and rolling across the cardio theatre. Imagine how much my world opened up when I got my MP3 player that attached to my arm! I could jog, run, lift weights... I could listen to more than one artist at a time... I could program my own exercise playlists... I was no longer that girl chasing after the rolling CD in the gym! It was AMAZING.
It was then, in 2005, with the companionship of that MP3 player, that I jogged for the first time since childhood. I jogged for just a few blocks at a time, gradually increasing to 5 and 10 minute increments, and eventually to a continuous 2.5 mile loop around the University of Florida campus. I felt powerful... accomplished... inspired by an ability that I NEVER thought I had. And even though I was jogging in a literal swamp, sweat dripping off me as I pounded the pavement in 95+ degree heat and 80%+ humidity, gosh darnit I felt sexy! All of this, courtesy of my MP3 player.
Music is empowering. Research has shown that when people exercise while listening to music, they work harder and exercise longer than those who work out sans melodies. Music makes the time pass quicker... we zone out listening to Britney or Lady Gaga and the next thing you know, your 30 minutes on the treadmill is over. Music makes exercise fun and keeps your mind off of the fact that you are indeed "working."
Music is a great pseudo-personal trainer. You can use the variation in songs to help you set up intervals: jog one song, walk one song, repeat. Or pace yourself according to the tempo of the music. There are many ways to build a playlist to suit whatever workout you choose... slower music for flexibility/stretching, quicker music for jogging/running/elliptical machine, your favorites of any tempo for strength training/weight lifting. And definitely choose uplifting energizers for getting through tough workouts.
If you're not currently using music during your workouts, I encourage you to try it... then let me know if you see/feel a difference. I guarantee you'll enjoy your workout more! And if you don't have an MP3 player... I do have one sitting in my garage for sale. ;-)
In case you need some recommendations to start building your exercise playlist, here are some of my favorite "energizer" songs that help me crank through a tough workout:
Danger Zone - Kenny Loggins
Gimme More - Britney Spears
Runnin' on Sunshine - Grey's Anatomy Cast version
Raise Your Glass - Pink
ABC - Jackson 5
Peacock - Katy Perry
Dance, Dance - Fall Out Boy
Monster - Lady Gaga
Bad Romance - Lady Gaga
Smooth Criminal - Michael Jackson
Extraordinary - Liz Phair
All I Ever Wanted - Kelly Clarkson
Single Ladies - Beyonce
Closer - Ne Yo
Right Round - Flo Rida
Only Girl (in the World) - Rihanna
If I Had You - Adam Lambert
Makes Me Wonder - Maroon 5
September - Earth, Wind, & Fire