Whether it’s Zumba’s infectious world beats or the hip-hop that Olympian Michael Phelps prefers, your workout playlist works for you on many levels—during and even before you exercise.
First, there’s something about music that triggers a fundamental mind-body connection. There are direct connections from neurons related to hearing, to those related to movement. Jessica Grahn, a cognitive neuroscientist at Western University’s Brain and Mind Institute in Ontario, Canada, told Scientific American that the same connection activated by a loud noise is active for sounds that aren’t startling, such as music. The startling sound makes you jump, while the music prompts you to clap, tap your foot, or otherwise keep time.
Most of us who listen to music also know it can distract you during your workout—so you go a little longer, or a little harder. But there’s recent research that shows songs with a lot of bass can prepare you for a powerful workout before you start to exercise. A study by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University proves that music with high levels of bass, in particular, gives listeners a heightened sense of power and control before their workout.