Fitness tips that will be music to your ears

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As we all know after the first couple of weeks of the New Year pass by, often-times – so does sticking to resolutions!

Gym-goers stand a better chance of reaching their fitness goals by applying science to their workout playlists, says a leading neuroscientist.

Getting in shape is one of the most popular new year’s resolutions, but only 12% will actually achieve their goals*. (see graphic attached)

To help reach those goals, music streaming site rara.com has partnered with Dr. Jack Lewis Ph.D. to consult on how music can actually affect the brain and assist in achieving get-fit plans.

Dr. Jack Lewis, an expert in how the human brain works, looked for music that would deliver the maximum performance enhancement during exercise – known in scientific circles as ‘ergogenic’ benefit. The findings were surprising; while many assume fast-paced dance music makes for the best workout music, other factors can prove crucial in readying the brain for exercise, and maintaining focus during a tough workout session.

rara.com has also worked with Dr. Jack Lewis to create a ready-made neuroscience-inspired playlist that is currently available as part of its free trial. The 11-track playlist features artists as diverse as Michael Jackson, Beethoven, Tinie Tempah and Johnny Cash, and is carefully structured to build in bpm (beats per minute) throughout an energetic training session.

Dr. Jack Lewis shares his expert tips that will have you in the groove

Dr. Jack Lewis shares his expert tips that will have you in the groove

Here Dr. Jack Lewis gives his top five tips for creating workout-boosting playlists 

1.       Try out classical music to feel the benefits of both motivation and relaxation

Dr. Jack says: “energetic but not overly fast classical music can be ideal in the gym. Not only does upbeat music increase speed, strength and endurance, but the relaxing qualities of classical appears to reduce heart rate, blood pressure and lower perceived exertion, at the same time. In addition, relaxing music has been shown to lower levels of cortisol in the body, the hormone associated with stress. I’d recommend Beethoven’s Symphony No 4, 4th Movement.”

2.       Listen to music before exercise to get ‘in the zone’ like an Olympic athlete

Dr. Jack says: “Listening to upbeat music (around 120-130 bpm) before lacing up your trainers gets your brain into a highly aroused state. Music at this tempo or above stimulates the Reticular Activating System, the part of the brain that increases alertness and prepares the body and mind for action. Technologic by Daft Punk (128 bpm) would be a good choice here”

3.       Choose songs that are ‘beautiful to the ear’

Dr. Jack says: “Try to choose songs that mean something special to you personally – ones that remind you of something motivational or inspiring. This could perhaps be a song from a favourite movie or a track that reminds you of a great holiday with friends. Research shows that the premotor cortex, an area of the brain involved in planning sequences of movement, is stimulated when subjects have been played music that is beautiful to their ear. Tracks we’re not so keen on are less effective in stimulating this region.”

4.       Match playlist tracks to desired heart rate for optimum results

Dr. Jack says: “It is important to match your tunes to your desired heart rate. Musical beats robustly stimulate an area of the brain called the basal ganglia which initiates movements and also has recently been found to increases crosstalk between areas responsible for generating hearing and movement. This may be why we have a natural tendency to match the energy of our movements to the beat. For beginners just getting into fitness music of a moderate intensity, around 125-140 bpm, would be most effective. Pumped Up Kicks by Foster The People is in this range. However more experienced trainers or athletes will need to step this up; 162-168 bpm seems optimal for them. Hey Ya by Outkast would be an effective choice.”

5.       Motivational music appears to benefit women more than men in certain activities

Dr. Jack says “Pumping music like the kind played in aerobics classes or circuit training has been shown to be especially effective for women. In tests, women were able to perform more repetitions in a medley of different exercises relative to men when motivational music was playing. We’re not certain why this is as yet, but it may help explain why classes often have a female majority.”

Nick Massey, CEO of rara.com said: “We find Dr. Jack Lewis’ findings fascinating. Anyone can use rara.com to create playlists using these tips, or try out his ready-made ‘ergogenic’ playlist themselves. However if people are looking for something more familiar, we also have a new playlist hand-picked by Tracy Anderson, personal trainer to Kim Kardashian and Gwyneth Paltrow, plus fitness playlists suitable for everyone and any sport”

Until January 31st anyone can find, play and share unlimited music from millions of tracks available on rara.com, completely free, for seven days.  Just log on to rara.com online and use voucher code HOLIDAY2012. After the seven day free trial rara.com is just $0.99 per month for the first three months, then $4.99 per month after that.

Young Woman Exercising on a Rowing Machine

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Melissa Myers has worked as an entertainment journalist for ten years, both in London and New York. She has done a daily gossip column on British newspaper the Daily Star where she interviewed everyone from Tom Cruise and George Clooney to Simon Cowell and Jennifer Lopez. She also worked as the News Director of In Touch in New York for the past six years, before launching her own site www.celebzter.com, which aims to provide smart content for smart women.
Melissa Myers has worked as an entertainment journalist for ten years, both in London and New York. She has done a daily gossip column on British newspaper the Daily Star where she interviewed everyone from Tom Cruise and George Clooney to Simon Cowell and Jennifer Lopez. She also worked as the News Director of In Touch in New York for the past six years, before launching her own site www.celebzter.com, which aims to provide smart content for smart women.
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