The Power of Music

I’m sure everyone can agree that music can be a pretty powerful force. It can be used in so many ways – from improving athletic performance through to therapeutic interventions for anxiety and depression. Music can actually play a role in our mood, effort, and even our output. While everyone has their own personal preferences and musical tastes, the overall impact of certain genres can’t be denied. Stuff with heavy bass and synthetics can easily make people want to move while acoustic songs can help you relax – there’s a solution for everything!

Research has shown that music impacts our sympathetic nervous system which gets our body ready for action. Our heart rate and breathing speed up and muscles get ready to react. Further, the beat of the music can make these reactions stronger and faster – hence why you want to find the right beat of music to pace your long-distance run to. Music is also a useful tool in the mental realm as it can be a distraction from a negative or boring task. So, you can use the right music to overthrow your brain when it’s telling you to stop running or that you can’t lift another rep. Additionally, the emotional tie to music can’t be denied – how a certain song can bring about sad or happy thoughts, or take you right back to a great event. The power of music is pretty impressive!

Music has always been a part of my daily life. Being in the band helped me understand the theory of music and skating put this into practice. Now, it’s the cornerstone of our Les Mills fitness classes, I always train with music, I keep headphones at my desk so I can listen to YouTube all day at work, and it’s even constant at home when we’re getting ready for the gym. For Christmas I bought Kyle a House of Marley Bluetooth speaker and it definitely gets put to good use. We usually listen to Shaman’s Harvest when getting ready, as it’s something we both like (often Dirty Diana on repeat…if you like Michael Jackson, check this song out!).

I’m always caught off guard when people ask me what I listen to during training (and more people ask than I would have expected). First of all, I’m usually embarrassed to give the answer because I don’t really feel like my musical taste is anything impressive (read: I think it’s nerdy). Second, it’s hard to answer because day to day my music selection shifts in pretty substantial ways. Our preferences can be influenced by a lot of things, and weight training has definitely influenced mine these last few years. I now listen to (and LOVE) songs and artists I never would have given a second thought to previously.


My music library is separated into a variety of playlists – Training, Relax, Chill, and No Shitting Around.  Training and Relax can both be used for cardio, depending on what I’m doing and how I’m feeling, but Training is also my main playlist for workouts in general as it has most of my library in it. But, sometimes I get annoyed when I have to skip a lot of songs because they aren’t helpful at the moment, so I made other lists. Chill is more for outside the gym or the rare occasion that I stretch after a workout. No Shitting Around is my go-to for heavy training sessions like legs, back, and chest. It has heavier alternative rock or rap on it which have helped get me through a lot of hard training sessions. But I’m not going to lie, sometimes Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off has been on repeat for a good squat session! You never know what you’ll need on a certain day.

I’m terrible with updating my music library on a regular basis. I will also listen to the same four songs for weeks on end until something else replaces them.  Here are some snapshots of my current playlists, in case it helps someone else build their own library. I guess it goes without saying that the No Shitting Around list is pretty much full of songs that come with parental warnings.  And yes, I also love some good, upbeat country music – it’s fun for cardio sessions because it makes me smile.

Heavy training sessions call for angry music.

Heavy training sessions call for angry music.

Country is fun for cardio and lighter training days.

Country is fun for cardio and lighter training days.

Fun for training and cardio sessions

Fun for training and cardio sessions

About Ashleigh

I'm passionate about health and fitness. I work as a Health Promotion Specialist, a group fitness instructor, and also a coach for physique competitors / weight loss clients. I grew up as a competitive athlete, and have continued with this passion as a Women's Physique competitor. Research and writing is another interest of mine, which I use to share my knowledge with the general public.
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