Music- the Unsung Hero Behind the Mind/Body Connection
“Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed Fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.” ― Hunter S. Thompson
Some things in life just come naturally to us. For me, fitness is not one of them. Whether it’s dealing with the daily shoulder pain I’ve brushed off from a high school swimming injury, or exploring a new yoga class which makes me feel like a rock star, (until the mirror stares me straight back into reality), working out and staying in shape have never been my strong suits. Yet, as I grow older, I look forward to pushing myself physically more than ever before. Perhaps, it has taken me 30+ years to understand the sweetest rewards often follow bitter struggles. And I’m sure many of you know, maintaining a daily workout routine while raising 2 kids and keeping a constant work schedule is no easy feat. I struggle with finding the balance. Every. Single. Day.
Last week, I took part in an extremely challenging cardio class that lies well outside my comfort zone. I finished feeling physically spent, but mentally invigorated. This particular instructor had an incredible playlist, and I used my strength in music to channel a physical strength by connecting mentally and physically to the energy of rhythm, voice and lyric.
Which brings me to what has always come naturally to me: Music.
I never have to think twice when it comes to music. Just as running or dance is to some, music is my oxygen. It’s what energizes me, relaxes me and fuels my motivation to push myself beyond what I deem to be comfortable. So it makes sense that without my music, my fuel, I lack the energy required to realize my full potential, especially when it comes to exercise. And when I’m able to find a connection to the music, it takes me to an entirely new level of mind/body synergy.
Have you ever found yourself aimlessly roaming the grocery store aisles, reaching half-heartedly for the kale to put in the green smoothie that you plan on making, for real this time, when out of nowhere “Take on Me” or (insert guilty pleasure song here) starts blaring on the speaker and suddenly that kale becomes the coolest thing in your cart? Its way beyond a song giving you that spring in your step; it’s science.
According to Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D., one of the world’s leading authorities on music and exercise from London’s Brunel University School of Sport and Education, “music is like a legal drug for athletes. It can reduce the perception of effort significantly and increase endurance by as much as 15 percent.”
Coming across this information partially validated what I had innately known all along, at least about myself. Music’s potency on our minds and bodies reaches far beyond what we have the ability to consciously comprehend. When I exercise, I allow my strength in music to channel my own physical strength, and to push myself to a new level of physicality.
One person in particular who shares my passion for the powerful role that music plays in our lives is Founder and Co-Owner of AddeoFit, Sarah Addeo. We each have our own unique relationship with music and how and why it has impacted our journey. But, she is a tireless champion of the power of mind/body connection to music and I have found her mission to share her enthusiasm awe-inspiring. Each song on her playlist is chosen carefully and deliberately to ignite motivation and intention in every single step for each class she instructs.
So, I invite you to join me in the challenge to turn to music when things in life begin to get hard. Whether you’re going through a difficult workout or a really rough day at the office, take a minute to get out of your head, and get into the music. Need some inspiration? Below, I have listed some of my favorites from over the years. These songs are off of my running playlist, so warning; some of them are extra chipper!
Motivational music for your playlist:
Born to Fly – Sarah Evans
Everywhere – Fleetwood Mac
From Yesterday – 30 Seconds to Mars
Hallelujah – Vitamin String Quartet
Human – The Killers
I Don’t Feel Like Dancing– Scissor Sisters
I Feel It Coming– The Weekend
I Wanna Be Sedated – Ramones
I Will Not Be Afraid of Women – Dar Williams
Land of Canaan – Indigo Girls
Machine Head – Bush
Mercy – Duffy
Starships – Nicki Minaj
Take On Me – Ah Ha! (Pentatonix has a crazy-good cover!)
Walking On Broken Glass – Annie Lennox
You are All I Need – Bethany Dillon
What music inspires and challenges you?