Habits of Fit People: Create a Workout Playlist

By , SparkPeople Blogger
You want to be a fit person, right? That's why I'm sharing my own habits for keeping fit and staying healthy in the ongoing Habits of Fit People series.

Here's one that works for me: Create a workout playlist. So why does something like this matter?

Anyone who has ever watched a great movie knows that the soundtrack really sets the mood and taps into your emotions. Put simply, music is powerful. It can inspire, energize, or even relax you. So having the right music for your workouts can go a long way in keeping you excited and motivated to not only get out the door, but also to work hard during your exercise session. Researchers agree. One recent study found that exercisers who listened to music during their workouts pushed themselves harder than those who didn't listen to music. And researchers from Brunel University in England found that songs with tempos between 120 and 140 beats per minute, which coincides with most dance and rock songs, are best for exercising.

But even if we didn't have researchers telling us that music can improve your workouts, I think that we'd hardly argue. Who hasn't experienced a rush of energy and momentum when listening to a great song? When you're exercising, your heart rate is elevated and you're moving at a quicker pace or flowing from one exercise to the next. So the soundtrack you listen to can help you enter "the zone," focusing on your pace, intensity, and body's signals better than if you were absorbed in a rerun of "Friends" while on the elliptical trainer.

Music is essential to my workouts. I pack my iPod with my favorite get-up-and-go tunes, the ones that I can't help but move to. And I'm always adding to it. I keep a pen and small piece of paper with me most of the time, so that when I hear a song on the radio, during a TV commercial, or even during a fitness class, I can jot down some of the lyrics and look it up.

Often I create my own workout playlists—I have about over 40 of them and counting! Rather than just let my mp3 player shuffle aimlessly through all the songs in my collection, I create playlists for specific activities like running, Spinning, Pilates, strength training and even stretching. Regularly adding new songs to my playlists is a simple and inexpensive way to keep my workouts fresh and interesting.

Do you have a hard time exercising when you don't have the right music?

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MO_GOMAA 10/24/2020
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Great. Report
MUST have my music! Report
Music is great! Report
I definitly have my artists who I enjoy going for walks to, lifting to, and a select few that I can't help but just move and run to! Report
I find that listening to music means that I can do more for longer. The music distracts me a bit. So instead of saying one more and I am done - I say that I will continue until the end of this song Report
I have 2 mp3 players. each have their own music, some it the same and some is different. I love working out to my music. It gets me energized to do my workouts. I love Blake Lewis and Katy Perry. I also rock out to White Cross (christian rock). Report
I love having great music for exercising too! It totally motivates me. Some of the "stronger" musice makes me push myself too. I can't exercise without it. Report
It sounds like I must be the last person around who doesn't have an MP3 player. I don't think I would like it for running/walking outdoors, but I'm sure it would do wonders for my winter treadmill time. Report
I have an iPod nano that I use exclusively for running. It's loaded with playlists from Podrunner, which features hour-long mixes at 130 to 180 bpm and it's been an integral part of my workouts since I first found it on iTunes (and it's FREE). The rhythm and beats help me get into a groove and the music and vocals help take the edge off how hard I'm working. Music + exercise is a great combination! Report
Also consider listening to your iPod while you are swimming or doing other aquatic exercises. A great company called Otterbox makes waterproof cases for every iPod or iPhone, along with waterproof headphones. I'm designing my swimming playlist today. Report
It's true. I do, I have to have upbeat music and the less I heard it, the better. At times the over played is good b/c I sing along and takes my mind off of it or from memories and I get off of the thought of "am I done yet" into the music. Report
On my mp3, I have music that keeps a good beat for when I workout on the treadmill and the elliptical. Some songs go faster than others, so I keep up with that beat for the entire song. It works out pretty well and I feel I get a good workout. Report
I love working out with music.

It blocks out distractions and keeps me focused on what I'm doing.

It keeps me motivated. I use songs with key phrases that encourage me to move. Things like: "please don't stop the music" or "what have you done today to make you feel proud?"

It sets the pace for what I'm doing and keeps me challenged. If I increase the incline on the elliptical, can I still keep that beat?

It makes the time go by faster. If I am going to workout for an hour, then I have an hour's worth of music and when the songs are done, I know I'm done. I always end my workout with a slower song for stretching, a song that motivates me.

Also, I sing in the church Choir and we quite often do longer pieces of music (contatas or a mass). We learn these by listening to the CD and following along in our book. Where do you think I learn these? On the treadmill! I kill two birds with one stone-learn the music and get fit at the same time! Report
Good music definitely makes my workout easier. I like mostly classic rock like AC/DC, Aerosmith, Bon Joive, etc. I like something with a really good beat and I just pick songs that I like, not an entire CD when loading them on my iPod. Report
Nothing like having awesome, motivating songs to listen to. Its great that most gyms have music, but there is no way they can motivate everybody, and cover everyone's tastes with one station. Report
I use a little non-Ipod while I walk the dogs. I recorded some work-out tunes from DVDs and some favorite downloads and CDs I already had. Even when I'm not paying conscious attention, I find myself moving to the beat of the tunes. I'm sure people seeing me wonder why I hitch step and change my pace as the tunes change. I also tend to march to slower tunes to get more of a workout. Report
Good, upbeat music makes a big difference in my workouts for sure!
In fact, I'm sitting here this very minute waiting for my ZEN player to upload the music so I can hop on my elliptical and get some miles gone.
I particularly like europop and trance, the upbeat tunes makes me so bouncy and energetic! Report
This is so true! I actually just made my workout playlist today :) I used it while rowing, and went for 45 minutes! What is more motivating than hearing Kanye's "Stronger" while working out? Report
Ha! I walk at 5 in the morning, and I HAVE been known to hum or sing along. It would probably sound pretty wierd to anyone listening in, but at that time of day, who's around? Walking wouldn't be nearly as much fun without my tunes. Have you listened to Kenye West's "The New Workout Plan"? It's a new favorite. Report
Working out at the gym is sooo much easier with some music! My MP3 player's battery died after the first song on the treadmill yesterday, so I had to plug it into the TV. Listening to CNN was nowhere near as motivating. Makes time go faster, too, if I am singing in my head to the song. (just not out loud!) Report
I just recently started working out with music and I must say I have seen a big difference in my workout and so has my trainer. I can stay on the treadmill for an hour now and I feel my workout the next morning Report
I created a workout playlist as soon as I got my gym membership and it totally pumps me up :) I thought I was the only one so silly but I am glad to see it works for others too! xoxox Report
I'm training for a half marathon, and since I'm training on a treadmill until the roads and sidewalks are safe, I HAVE to have my IPOD. However, I know that once I hit the outside in the spring or maybe on the nice weekend we're supposed to have here, I'll run without headphones. It's prohibited at the race, and I actually found that I clear my head so much more running without them. When I do strength training, I generally listen to really hard beats and songs with a lot energy which usually ends up with me pumping more and heavier iron! Report
I used to have a hard time without a playlist at the gym as they always had on golden oldies songs! But now I run outside and like to hear the sounds of the water and trees, I also don't listed to my mp3 player for safety. Report
I am really looking forward to getting an iPod and the armband holder for Christmas from my boyfriend. I know it is exactly what I need to improve my treadmill workouts. I work out harder and longer when I have an upbeat playlist to motivate me. Report
Oh yeah the music gets me motivated during my eliptical time. Right now I have a personal trainer so I can not use it during weight workout time but I sure miss it. I used to walk and have a playlist..to this day if I hear a few of those same songs on the raidio..it gets my brain saying "lets go walk". I think some one on here said Pavlov dogs..I do agree Report
I need to make some playlists, because I get so tired of listening to the same patter on my workout videos, over and over and over...

Years ago, in the dark ages before mp3 players, when I was active in community music groups, I used to keep Sousa marches running through my head when I walked! Report
Listening to music makes a huge difference in my workout. The faster the tempo the quicker my pace! Report
I guess its time to use my phone for this! Great advice! Ill pack great songs in my phone and Ill get me going!
Thanx for the advice! Report
I notice a BIG difference when I don't have music to get me moving! I will sometimes forget to charge my ZEN player and if it dies during my workout, I get all sluggish. Even if I am at home on my stepper, watching tv, I still have the music playing very low by one ear, just to keep me going. I think it is kind of a Pavlov's Dog sort of thing, I hear the music and I start moving. My problem is that I've never been to "in to" music so I don't know what songs are good, upbeat songs to download and don't really know how to do it. I use CDs I already own and rip them to my laptop and then download them to my ZEN but I don't really know how to get individual songs from where ever you get them -- the internet, I guess and is iTunes only for iPods?? duh????? Report
I don't have an ipod, so I listen to the news or watch my favorite TVshow. I think I will have to purchase one. Report
If I'm working out with someone then I'm fine without music, but if I'm on my own or if I'm on a machine in the gym then I like to have my iPod with me. I'm kind of a music junkie anyway, though, so I like to have it with me most places I go.

I will say, however, that I surprised myself a couple of weeks ago when my battery died shortly after I'd started a workout. I was really annoyed at first, but then as I got into the workout I realized that I didn't have to depend on the music to "get me through" the workout like I used to - I was actually enjoying the exercise for what it was - not just another opportunity to listen to music. :) Report
I workout in front of the television and the better the movie, the easier the workout. I can tune out the pain and get the five miles if my mind is elsewhere! I also keep a better pace when walking outside. I picked the music that has a fast tempo! Report
I find there is a direct correlation between the song I am listening to and my level of exercise. The faster the song, the faster I move which means the harder I am working. My favorite workout music is punk rock as it is the fastest music I've found and the mood is often angry which puts me in a (weight) fighting state! Sets a mood of "Yeah! I can beat this weight thing! Yah!" Report
What a great way to use my iPod. Thanks. Report
Very true, I tend to work out more with music. Report
If I didn't have my MP3 player with all my upbeat songs on it, I wouldn't be using my treadmill. That is what makes me want to go on it!! Report
My BF accidentally took my iPod cord with him when he moved out, so I've been listening to the same songs over and over and it's driving me crazy! I can't wait until he sends it to me, I am hoping it will improve my workout. Report
I just have to have music when I do my workouts and it has to be music with a good beat it keeps me going.. Report
The right kind of music definitely can make or break your workout! I've often said that the right kind of music can cure just about anything. I suffer from depression and I listen to music every day. My MP3 player is always with me and is my best friend and my best tool for bringing myself out of what I know is about to be a Major Depression episode before it gets to be too 'major'. The type of music I listen to depends on what I need that day. Some days it's Gospel... some days is Rock or even Heavy Metal, and some days it's something some where in between. If it wasn't for my music I think I would have been hospitalized a very long time ago. Report
Excellent content and GREAT posts. I included the value of your Ipod in a series of posts I did in Sept. at http://coachhrd.blogspot.com . While your Ipod music can be so helpful, it's always good to have some ideas for "getting motivated" to work out, especially at this time of year. Report
I need music to move. I get into 5 K's the road runners club frown on any type of music in ears. Only becuse it can be a danger not hearing cars. I usuallt burn a cd especially for running. Report
I guess I'm one of a few people who don't really need outside music to inspire me. Because I run outside, the sounds of nature and my thoughts are the only music I need. Report
I totally agree! I too have my ipod loaded with music to work out to. My son put together a lot of my play lists, calls them "madre's work out songs"! He is a guitar player and really enjoys putting together music for me. Report
yep, the right kind od music makes all the difference sometimes... Report
When I workout, I have to have to music...especially when I run! The playlist I just created last month is so good that I get a goofy grin on my face at the beginning of each new song... Report
I reward myself with new music.  It is a must for working out. Report
I agree about music. Can't run without it! Report
I have to have something to listen to or watch tv in order to keep up on my elliptical. I find that if I am involved in a show or listening to music then I can go much longer then if I was just on the elliptical without anything. I cannot read like some people do because it is more distracting. When I am doing my walking workouts I find my mp3 player and essential because it does set the pace and I love to workout to the music. Report