Music is a great way to get in the mood for walking and can help you keep you on a brisk, fast walking pace – especially during intense fitness walking sessions. Even for the most serious walkers, walking alone with your thoughts can cause you to lose focus. Listening to music can get you in “the zone” and prevent unproductive thoughts of work, chores, and other stressors slowing you down. Adding your own soundtrack improves mental clarity and lets you walk further and faster than you otherwise could.
Here are 3 reasons, backed by science, that music helps you walk faster and get more steps, plus ideas on what kind of music you should look for and where to find it.
Music can improve your gait
A catchy, upbeat tune can improve your pace and speed as you work to keep the beat. Music has been found to improve the gait of walkers, keeping them moving longer and farther than they otherwise would. Even walkers with injuries, disabilities or medical conditions show an improved gait and better walks when listening to music! Music can help you to forget you are exercising, which lets you walk faster without even realizing it. Improving your rhythm by listening to music signals the motor area of your brain to help you keep a steady pace that is easier on your body.
Music makes your brain happy
Both exercise and being in a good mood produce natural hormones that make you feel better and allow you to walk longer. Listening to music increases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that activates the pleasure and reward center of the brain. Set your playlist to shuffle and get an unexpected boost when a favorite song comes on! Music also helps you enjoy exercise more. Brain studies have shown that walking to music makes walking more enjoyable, even more so than listening to podcasts. Just getting outside into nature can also help you feel great, and exercise like walking can boost your mood and energy as well.
Music can put you in “the zone”
Having a walking playlist helps you get in the “Zone,” the sought-after state where you feel like you can walk effortlessly at a great pace. The right mix of beats and lyrics can make the world seem to fall away and leave you just walking to the music. When you’re “in the zone,” you’ll be focused, feel great, and be set to get a great walk in. Being focused and in the zone can also help you overcome distractions, nagging thoughts and minor aches and pains that would end your walk early if you weren’t motivated to walk.
While it’s possible to get extremely intense and zoned in on your own, music gives you a way to focus your mind that cuts out distractions. Make sure you have a long enough playlist of similar songs so that changes in songs don’t take you out of the zone.
How and where to find your music
While runners may go for music with fast beats, walkers may want to choose music that’s a bit slower and better fits your walking pace. Any genre and style of music can work, depending on your taste in music and what is easy for you to find. Some people swear by fast, energetic workout songs during intense walking workouts, but others prefer slower songs that help them maintain a steady pace for long-distance walks. Try keeping one or two “energy” songs in reserve that will give you a motivation and energy boost if you find yourself starting to run out of energy.
If you don’t have a huge playlist on your phone, there are many free streaming music apps that allow you to listen to your favorite songs while you’re on the move. Apps like Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio and more stream music directly through your phone. Podcasts are also an option if music isn’t for you, though they lack the steady beat that’s more likely to push you to walk faster and more intensely.
With the right soundtrack behind you, you’ll find you’re walking longer and having more fun without even thinking about it!
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