Beats Per Minute and Performance: Get Fit to the Beat

Are you looking to freshen up your playlist, get the motivation you need to hit that personal record, or just develop a better tempo during your next workout? Here are some tips and tricks on how to prepare a playlist for every workout and customize your playlist to your workout!

The Science Behind the Beat

Listening to music when working out allows your mind to focus on something else other than the physical pain. This urban-legend turned scientifically-proven-fact is mostly thanks to researchers from Brunel University in the United Kingdom, who found in 2015 that listening to music while exercising decreased the rate of perceived exertion, or how hard someone thought they were working, which led to a 15% increase in endurance! Some athletes use music in this vein to get them “in the zone,” or be in a focused mental state while exercising.

The beat of a song is one of the most critical aspects of a song used for exercising. Synchronization, or the ability to match rhythm with the physical exercise you are performing, minimize some of the brain’s processing power and allows for increased focus, which contributes to the feeling of being “in the zone!”

Scientifically, the best beat to run to is 180 bpm. The value, which happens to be the beat of lots of rock and hip-hop songs, was suggested by running coach Jack Daniels (no, not that Jack Daniels,) in 2011. Since then, everyone from Runners World, a famous running magazine, to music labels have advocated for the value. The song’s beats per minute is intended to be synchronized to match steps per minute, where each beat in the song is supposed to be matched and represented by a single stride.  This value is argued by many top running coaches and analysts to be mean upwards of 180 beats per minute, not just 180, as many of the top runners average upwards of 190 or 200 steps per minute. If you were to run at precisely 180 steps per minute, you would have an average mile time of seven minutes per mile.

Songs for Running

Looking for scientifically backed songs to add to that running/jogging/walking/cycling playlist? Check out, a website that provides songs sorted by bpm and includes your estimated mile time! You can sort by mile time, bpm, artist, or genre, if you want to find a specific song. If you are trying to find the bpm of a song not uploaded to the website, you can search the song or artist title to get pace information, bpm, and a Spotify link, so you can verify that that is indeed the song you are looking for!

Are you looking to hit a new personal record and need other tips and tricks to get there? Let us know in the comments below!

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