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Optimal workout music playlist

Whether you run on a used treadmill or lift weights, you probably have your headphones plugged in while you work out. If you don't, you can use the songs in what scientists believe could be the most effective workout music playlist ever designed.

Developing special states of mind
Dr. Costas Karageorghis, deputy head of the School of Sport and Education at Brunel University in London, recently analyzed more than 6.7 million playlists to help him develop a tracklist of the best workout songs. With the help of Spotify, Dr. Karageorghis selected music based on popularity, beats per minute and specific scientific principles that elicit stronger performances while exercising.

Planning and strategizing an exercise playlist might seem excessive, but science supports Karageorghis' work. According to Karageorghis, music can affect our brainwave states in a variety of beneficial ways.

"Music helps to induce alpha brain wave activity which is responsible for our dreams and rest states," he told BBC News. "This leads to a state known as 'flow,' which is an ultimate motivational state in which sportspeople are completely immersed in what they are doing and feel as if they are functioning on autopilot."

How the playlist was set up
Karageorghis and his team of researchers searched for the perfect set list with the science of brainwave activity in mind. They begin with strong warm-up and stretching music and transition to songs that pair well with cardio exercise. The songs increase in intensity, leading up to the part of the playlist that benefits strength training. The end of the playlist is conducive to cool downs and relaxation.

Karageorghis believes that music has the ability to change your perception of effort. It can make you think that you are not tired and may even produce encouraging, positive thoughts. In a related survey he and his colleagues conducted, they found unprofessional male and female athletes find different music motivational. Men think Rocky's theme song, "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor, is a great workout song. Women prefer songs by Rihanna and Lady Gaga.

To supplement his initial findings, Karageorghis recruited 30 participants who agreed to exercise on a treadmill while listening to pop and rock music. The songs the subjects heard included Madonna, Queen and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. During their workout, the subjects were instructed to run to the beat of the music. The researchers discovered that the music chosen for tempo enhanced stamina by 15 percent.

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