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Can Music Solve America's Obesity Problem?

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Fitness experts have found that listening to upbeat music while exercising will help you get more from your workout. Particularly for aerobic workouts, music is a powerful motivator. Perhaps the most common use for this is as a diversion to take your mind off the fact that you're exercising. It distracts you from fatigue, allowing you to focus on your exercise. Listening to music has the potential to improve your mood, too. That positive mood means you may associate enjoyment with exercise and be more likely to try it again.

Research shows the rhythmic qualities of music tend to mimic patterns of physical skills. Therefore, music can enhance how quickly you pick up new movements and motion skills. For those who feel they were born with two left feet, music might make you more coordinated by helping to execute the stepping with less confusion.

Listening to the right kind of music can add an extra dimension to your workout. For example, many competitive athletes wear headphones before they race. Some of them are listening to fast-paced music to get their adrenaline flowing and get excited for the upcoming competition, while others are listening to slower-paced music to calm anxiety or nervousness.

So how do you choose music for your workout? This first depends on the intensity of the aerobic exercise chosen. The number of times the heart beats per minute, or BPM, needs to be consistent with the tempo or speed of the activity. For example, if you are swimming using the breaststroke at a rate of 100 strokes per minute, consider music that plays at 100 beats per minute. Or you could choose music that plays at 120 beats per minute and swim at one stroke every two beats, for a swimming speed of 60 strokes per minute.

Music can also be “programmed" to progress from warm-up to target heart rate and back to a cool-down resting pace to close. Warm-ups provide oxygen to muscles; reduce soreness and risk of injury. Cool-down allows blood to be pumped back up to your heart and brain.

So the next time you're lacking a little motivation to get out and go for a walk, hike or bike ride, consider charging up that ipod or mp3 player and cranking up the volume to your favorite song. It could very well change your feelings towards working out...as well as any perceptions about those young lads.

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