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Classical music best during exercise

London, Jan 21, 2013, PTI: 23:30 IST
Playing classical music in the background while exercising helps relax the body which reduces heart rate and blood pressure, an expert has claimed. UK-based neuroscientist Jack Lewis scoured reports of research to come up with a list of musically-themed advice for those who are trying to get fit.

He said that while various studies show that music allows people to exercise slightly harder and slightly longer - classical music has added benefits, the Daily Mail reported.

Studies show that compared to those exercising without any music playing, having classical music playing in the background helps relax the body.

“Energetic but not overly-fast classical music can be ideal in the gym. Not only does upbeat music increase speed, strength and endurance, but the relaxing qualities of classical music appear to reduce heart rate,
blood pressure and lower perceived exertion, at the same time,” Lewis said.

“In addition, relaxing music has been shown to lower levels of cortisol in the body, the hormone associated with stress. I’d recommend Beethoven’s Symphony No 4, fourth movement,” he said.

Lewis also recommends matching music with heartbeat - with faster beats better as a session gets harder.
A faster beat is not only more motivating, it also “instructs” the brain to energise the body. Lewis suggested Michael Jackson’s Rock with You for a heart rate of 116 beats per minute - the sort of rate typically seen when warming up. When effort increases and heart rate rises to 140bpm, music of German composer Ludwig Van Beethoven will be more appropriate. When exercising flat out, with a heart rate of around 180bpm, the fast pace of Tinie Tempah’s Pass Out should provide the necessary motivation.

At the other end of the scale, the gentle pace of Johnny Cash’s Heart of Gold will help those cooling down.
Other tips from Lewis, who was commissioned by music streaming website rara.com, include listening to
music before exercise, as well as during, and choosing tunes that have sentimental value.

“Research shows that the premotor cortex, an area of the brain involved in the planning of movement, is stimulated when subjects have been played music that is beautiful to the ear. Tracks we are not so keen on are less effective in stimulating this region,” Lewis said.

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