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LISTENING TO MUSIC WHILE RUNNING OR EXERCISING: PROS AND CONS
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July 22, 2008
LISTENING TO MUSIC WHILE RUNNING OR EXERCISING: PROS AND CONS

We've noticed that this topic was recently among the "hot" ones in magazines. Advice given was all "do it, it's good for you". Don't we wish it were THAT simple.

An ultimatum like "don't do it" simply won't do it, so let's lay everything out in the open and you decide what it is you want and how much are you willing to pay to get it. Yes, you read it right, there is no such thing as a free breakfast, everything comes at a price.

There are elemental constants and there are passing trends. While this is not exactly a passing trend (people have been listening to music while doing something else since "who knows" when), itís obviously not the constant either. It comes and goes, i.e. like fashion returns every 20-30 years in full circle, so do things like exercising with music or enjoying listening to nature and self. One day we're told to turn up the volume and create the soundtrack of our lives, the next day we learn that it's best to meditate and that silence is golden. Read on, there is a way to find a balance that suits your ambitions and feeds your soul.

PROS ARE:
  1. MUSIC STIMULATES & MOTIVATES LIKE NOTHING ELSE. Music has tremendous emotional and motivational power, it can help you to keep going, even when you feel "out of gas". Music can inspire you to do what you never thought you could. Once you're more comfortable with your technique, it is safe to go for pleasure jogs on a surface that's familiar and in an area that you know.
  2. MUSIC RELAXES YOUR MIND. Well actually music can twist your mind whichever way you want it to. Play just the right tune and you will cry or laugh, or remember your childhood, or people you've forgotten. Music can transport you into the past or the future, or to the faraway lands that you always dreamed about.
  3. IT ADDS FUN TO ROUTINES. Music can make any routine to be fun. Just make sure there is no potential danger in your selected routine because you will be distracted and you will be having a great time. It could be a fun to warm up or cool down before and after your intended runs.
CONS ARE:
  1. MUSIC STIMULATES & MOTIVATES LIKE NOTHING ELSE. True. It can also motivate you to keep running and running regardless of your form and technique. The potential problem? You will get injuries without noticing it. You will run miles that you're not equipped to do, you will go over mountains that you didn't intend to climb, etc. That's cool and exciting.... until you feel pain and realize you have an injury that you didn't think you had.
  2. MUSIC RELAXES YOUR MIND. It sounds like this one belongs in the "pros' only. Truth is, it's not what you want when you exercise or run, or walk for that matter. You want to be alert to what's around you, what's under your feet and what your body is doing. If you feel like you need to free your mind from the daily clutter - listen to music before you start your workout, your run, your walk. Or, here's something that's not often considered - focusing on your technique and how you move when exercising or running will take your mind off the mundane and that will free your mind and you will relax without realizing it or trying to do it. Relaxing your mind during running, which is considered to be one of the most dangerous athletic activities, due to the fact that 2 out of 3 runners are being injured on a regular basis, is not a smart move and is hazardous to your health.
  3. IT LOCKS YOU INTO A CERTAIN TEMPO and you will be stuck running at that pace unless you turn the music off or change the tune. And you're in even bigger trouble if you chose songs that have different tempos. Even the slightest difference in the tempo will throw you off and your entire body will protest. Unlike the little "metronome like" devices that help you keep the cadence and pace at a certain level and are quiet enough that you can still hear everything around you, headphones with music blasting take over and you're locked. Not good.
  4. IT'S SIMPLY NOT SAFE. You might have already gathered from above that it is not exactly safe to listen to music and let it distract you when running and exercising, but it does need to be reiterated, emphasized, highlighted and underlined. It is simply not smart to pretend that you can make the whole world go away when you go out for a run. The truck driver behind you doesn't know you can't hear him, the cyclist sneaking up on you from left doesn't know that either, the uneven surface beneath you presents less danger to the runner ahead of you without the "earplugs", and so on. Your reaction time is also way slower and the type of reaction you produce when tuned out is nothing to brag about. Your form falls apart quicker because you're distracted and we all know where that's going - injuries. It is simply not safe to run or exercise while listening to music. However, it is fun to put on your training gear or take a shower after training to a great tune.
  5. YOU WON'T ACHIEVE ANY SERIOUS RESULTS. Other than a potentially serious injury there are no serious results/improvements that you should count on. Any elite or competitive athlete will tell you how much focus it takes to train and then compete, you will NEVER see any professional athletes doing any serious training with headphones on. Why? Because they understand the importance of keeping their focus and prefer to listen to what their bodies are telling them. Every now and then, some will jog with some music for a little bit, but never do they constantly train with music. You will never hear any music during races or boxing matches, only in between the rounds maybe. Here's another example. Music is everything to dancing, and one can't imagine a dancing competition or performance without music. What only a few know is that during the preparation for the said dancing event, dancers practice first to simple counts of 1-2-3, 1-2-3, or 1 and 2 and, 1 and, 2 and.... music comes later, when the performer already knows his/her part.
Lots of people love music and we don't want to take that away from you, but unfortunately there are more cons to this than pros. We don't sugar it up. But while we don't want to make it completely distasteful, reality is that there are choices you have to make and then deal with the consequences of your choices. Hopefully our advice will help you to make more educated decisions that will help you enjoy your athletic life even more.

Article by Dr. Nicholas Romanov
Composed by L. Romanov



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