Friday, January 6, 2012

Sweatin to the...Public Radio?

Oh hi. Been a minute. It''s 2012, isn't it? Yeah. Wow. Sorry I've been absent for a tick. When not eating Christmas cookies and hammy black eyed peas and sweet potato biscuits and dad's gumbo and this cray-cray cake into sublime yuletide oblivion, I've been turning as much of the sucrose into sweat as possible.

So here we are -- the new year. Resolutions! Fresh starts! Detoxing! (At least until Carnival, which, oh hello, officially starts today.) All good ideas. And in as sure a sign of the apocalypse as any, NPR this morning got into the exercise advice game, with a sorta-obvs/sorta-kewl piece on the efficacy of working out to music. Yes, readers! In case you weren't aware, peppy music can make working out more fun. You could even say it...pumps you up?

But srsly, the piece was interesting because it brought in Science to explain that "When you are perceiving very rhythmic sounds, particularly those that are used in music, these sounds engage the areas in networks of the brain that allow us to move and in particular synchronize different muscle groups. It's this privileged link between the auditory system and the motor system."

The key is BPM (beats per minute). You may not think you like Matrixy industrial, or Clublandy house or, if you're Michele Norris, John Philip Sousa. But if it's uptempo, constant and loud enough to push your heart rate up, you're likely to feel pretty pumped up in spite of your best attempts to keep on hatin, say, La Bouche. (Which...why would anyone hate La Bouche?) It's why Ministry of Sound has a successful line of "Running Trax" compilations engineered according to BPM.

When I think fitness, NPR doesn't exactly spring to mind. But their Sweatin' to NPR website seems to have a semi-earnest collection of different workout mixes for different moods. There's a kickboxing mix (five very different songs, but I can see what they were going for); an 80s mix (super basic, but I appreciate the goofy inclusion of "Oh Yeah"); and a "Work Out, Make Out" mix, which...whatever, sure.

I've cycled through several workout mixes of my own over the years; next week I'll post some top selections from playlists past. But I can say without a doubt that to this day, I never run harder or get more La Femme Nikita fierce than when my iPod shuffles me some Prodigy "Smack My Bitch Up." Is that played out? 90s chaff? Who cares. Try it.

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