Female Athlete Listening to MP3 MusicResearch has shown that using music during exercise can reduce your level of perceived exertion. That may mean you are more likely to exercise harder and longer when you crank up the tunes. That’s good news if you find getting in the American Heart Association’s recommended 150 minutes of exercise each week hard to do. Or maybe you already use music when you work out but you’ve had the same list for months and the spark is gone. Try these tips for building or refreshing your playlist for an easy fitness boost.

Review your playlist

Maybe your current list has songs you added just because you like them. To get your spark back you will need to use another strategy. Choose songs with a pace that matches your workout goals. For example, you may want slower songs for your warm up and faster ones for your work out. Add songs that correspond in minutes to the amount of time you plan to spend in each phase of exercise. That may mean you add 5 minutes of songs that are good for warming up, followed by 30 minutes for your workout and finally 5 more for your cool down.

photodune-5723614-working-out-in-the-fitness-studio-xsUse beats per minute to build your playlist

For warm-up and cool down choose songs in the 110 bpm range. This tempo helps you maintain a pace that doesn’t push too far, too fast. When you are warmed up, switch your playlist to faster songs that keep up with your more vigorous pace. For example, if you are aiming for a 9 minute mile a song such as Matchbox Twenty’s Bright Lights with 159 bpm can help you stay on track. For a more moderately paced work out you want songs in the 120 to 140 bpm range. Examples include: I Gotta Feeling from the Black Eyed Peas and Survivor from Destiny’s Child.

Streaming services such as Spotify offer work out playlists that are customizable to the number of bpm that are best for your fitness goals. You can also build a downloadable list, regardless of your musical tastes, using suggestions from sites like jog.fm.

A final note, music boosts exercise performance by as much as 15%. Even those gains don’t trump safety. If you are cycling or running on public roads you may want to leave the headphones at home so you can hear traffic and people to stay safe while you exercise.