Well, we’ve got good news for the hardcore fitness folks in the audience: listening to music while you swim can actually provide some serious physical benefits! Read on to find out how music can help you take your swim to the next level.
The Science of Songs
Science continues to show that working out to music can statistically improve your work out. Bringing your headphones to the gym leads to a better exercising experience.
There have been quite a few studies about the impact of music on running and cycling, but now there are even two new studies that focus on swimming with music! Both have conclusive statistical evidence that swimming with music – for recreational to moderately competitive swimmers – can, and will, shave off time.
There are two major ways that music can help you improve your physical performance. First, it can motivate you to stay relaxed and comfortable even while swimming at a faster speed.
Photo Courtesy of Wicker Paradise
The way that music helps motivate your workout is by setting a consistent beat for you to move to. A regular beat helps you keep a steady pace, which is especially important for cardio exercise like swimming or running.
While any music can help you swim, not all songs are created equal. Scientists analyzed songs by their Beats Per Minute (BPM) and then ranked their effectiveness.
The BPM range that is most effective at pumping you up falls between 125-140. Anything faster than that and you can be stressing your body out without knowing it; any slower and you are not setting a fast enough pace.
Audio Overcomes Aches
Second, music can help you literally overcome physical pain when your body is tired.
According to one researcher, your body starts to tell you it is tired through signs like stiff muscles, sweating, and loss of breath. However, if you have music in your ears, focusing on the music can help you block out these signals and keep exercising! Minimizing the “burn" can help you make it through a longer workout and can improve your stamina by as much as 70%.
Just by putting on some tunes, you’ll be able to work out longer and feel better while doing it.
Training With Tunes
Swimming to music has been proven to scientifically improve your swim in multiple ways. You can speed up your work out. You can overcome aches and pains.
It is has also been shown to stimulate your heart rate and raise your blood pressure, so it is a great way to get a better warm up going. Also, the effectiveness of music while swimming has been equated with taking sodium bicarbonate (commonly used to enhance performance) before a race.
Now that we’ve talked about the benefits of listening to the right music while swimming, let’s find the right tracks and load up your playlist!
How Do You Count the BPM?
So how do you determine if your favorite songs are in the right range? Calculating the beats per minute of a song is not that hard to do. Start by turning on your favorite song and getting to the good part (aka the beat that pumps you up). Then, pause the song and find a stopwatch or a timer. From here, hit play and start tapping your foot to the beat.
This is the important part: count each tap. Once 15 seconds have elapsed, hit the pause button and write down how many times you tapped your foot. Multiply that number by 4 to get the BPM of the song. Once you’ve done this a few times, you should get a feel for about the speed you’re looking for.
You could also just Google it. That works too.
Songs Scientifically Proven to Pump Up Your Swim
We’ve curated a list of tracks from a few different genres that are the right BPM to improve your workout. Without further ado:Pop: Black Eyed Peas – Boom Boom Pow (131) Lady Gaga – Edge of Glory (128) Psy – Gangnam Style (132) Michael Jackson – Beat It (140) Adele – Someone Like You (135) Classic Rock Van Halen – Jump (129) Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse of the Heart (132) Elton John – Bennie and the Jets (132) The Beatles – Here Comes the Sun (129) The Clash – Rock the Casbah (129) Country: Sugarland – Just Might (140) JoDee Messina – Bring on the Rain (138) Miranda Lambert – Famous in a Small Town (139) Blake Shelton – Mine Would Be You (140) Trace Adkins – Tough People Do (140) Classical: (these can vary based on arrangement and performance!) Beethoven – Symphony 3 in E Flat Major (132) Mozart – Symphony No. 40 in G Minor (125) Einaudi – Primavera (139) Ravel – Bolero (140) Piano Guys – Titanium/Pavane (129)
This is just to give you an idea of what is out there. I am personally excited to find out that “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” by the Darkness (129) is in the right range. It you don’t want to do your own BPM test, just Google it.
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Has anyone found the perfect song for a specific stroke? Let us know in the comments below!
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