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Music, your brain and exercise 

By  Lysette Offley

Music, your brain and exercise - photo of cyclistApparently, some people have known since 1911 that cyclists pedal faster when listening to music.

An American researcher, Leonard Ayres, discovered that listening to music competes for your brain’s attention and can therefore distract you from the pain and tiredness that your brain would otherwise complain about.

(Hmmm…. Leonard Ayres… Wonder if he’s the same bloke as the one who wrote that fascinating 1909 tome “Laggards in our Schools”!!)

Laggard… There’s a description sure to motivate us to try again, and again, in the face of repeated failure!

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Back to the plot…

More recently, in 2012, it was discovered that cyclists listening to music actually used 7% less oxygen to do the same work as those cycling in silence.

Music, your brain and exercise - photo of metronomeThe trick is to match the tempo, or speed of the music to your actual work-out. So for example, and according to the research, if you’re running, you want music at 160-175 beats per minute (bpm).

(That must surely depend on how fast you’re running. After all, they haven’t seen me run!)

And indeed, if you are running at a speed that will never have you catch up with the departing bus, anything down to 140 bpm is the thing.

So they say.

But You already knew that, didn’t you?

What music do you listen to when you exercise?

Answers on a postcard!

Lysette Offley


With 40 years of experience, Lysette Offley is a Memory and Mindset Coach to women and men at the top of their game in the Financial Services Industry who recognise the value of continual personal and professional development and support to achieve a healthy work-life balance, along with satisfaction and fulfilment.

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