Music gets employees ‘pumped’ for exercise

Custom tapes are geared to specific activities

Your employees may not consciously pay much attention to the music you play while they work out, but the kind of music you play can have a significant impact on participation and workout quality.

A survey of nearly 2,000 indoor and outdoor exercisers in the United States shows that for many individuals, music can make a difference in how often and how well they exercise. The survey, conducted by Linda Shelton, AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America), a Thousand Oaks, CA-based fitness consultant/trainer, and Brad Hatfield, PhD, of the Kinesiology Department at the University of Maryland, College Park, was sponsored by Power Music of Salt Lake City. Among the key findings of the survey:

• 90% of all respondents said they would be more likely to exercise when they weren’t in the mood if they knew they had music available;

• 94% believe music motivates them while exercising;

• 90% believe music pushes them physically during exercise;

• 85% believe music helps them make it to the end of their workout;

• 80% believe music sets their exercise pace;

• 51% greatly enjoy their workouts (vs. 35% of non-listeners).

About one-third of the respondents do not listen to music while exercising, says Shelton. "Basically, the results substantiate my hypothesis that people respond positively to music," she notes. "I’m very, very pleased."

The results of the survey seem to validate the perceptions of companies such as Power Music, a fitness music company that has created an entire line of workout tapes, each geared to a specific activity. (See guidelines for choosing tapes, below.)

Power offers more than 30 titles, formatted at a various pace and energy levels for the full range of exercises from walking to abs workouts.

"The main reason [for specialized music] is that different exercises take place at a different pace, so by creating different tapes for each activity you can match the tempo of the music to the pace of the workout," explains Michael Babbitt, vice president of product development at Power.

Shelton agrees. "Most people won’t exercise just because their doctor said it would make them healthier," she asserts. "But, if the music has the right beats per minute, it makes it more fun. If it’s running at the wrong speed, it almost disturbs your own natural biorhythm."

What kind of music makes you want to get up and exercise? The same music that makes you want to sing along with the radio — or keep dancin’ all night.

Last fall, Shape magazine, published by Weider Publications in Woodland Hills, CA, released a list of the most popular songs in aerobics classes. They include: YMCA, Baby, I’m a Star, I’m Every Woman, Respect, Automatic Lover, Two Princes, Turn the Beat Around, Control, Right & Exact, Lucky Star, and Superstition.

"These are what we call ‘happy’ tunes, sing-a-long songs people have danced to at a club," says Shelton, who also serves as fitness editor for Shape. "You can use them for multiple activities. They all have a good underbeat and a real drive to them." The song selection was based on conversations with aerobics instructors across the country.

[Editor’s Note: For more information on customized exercise music, contact: Mike Babbitt, Power Music, 1303 South Swaner Road, Salt Lake City, UT. Telephone: (801) 975-7771. Fax: (801) 975-7774.]