Add music to your workout

Music and muscle - it's a great combination. Just ask those folks striding along with earphones glued to their ears. Any beat will cause the average person to lift a foot or snap a finger. Why not use the engulfing, hypnotic form of music to condition a few muscles?

For centuries, we have been moving to the beat as a form of ethnic expression. Can you imagine what our ancestors would think if they could see us using today's music for structured sweat?

Music, in any form, is just the opening of a door for wide fields of movement expression. For kids, it's a reason for laughter when they combine exercise with music. For the adult, it is a means of keeping time and using music for muscle control.

Walking, as a form of exercise, can be a better workout if you pick up your feet at a brisk pace. Music's beat can give you that brisk pace and make it much more enjoyable. Then there are some of us though who prefer to stagger through the grass and smell the roses when we walk.

In a structured fitness program, music is there to teach you something, to hit a beat and force muscle movement both concentrically and eccentrically. When you have to lift a leg within a certain time span and lower it in the same span, you are using muscle force to hold your leg from going down, instead of gravity being the moving force. Have you ever tried to slow-run? The slower the beat, the slower the lift off and landing of the body. Shock and rebound have had time to dissipate, and muscle usage is the only way to complete the movement.

The fun side of music is the type, style and words of the song. Everyone prefers a certain style of music, but often we find ourselves laughing over songs to which we would never have had the courage to listen. Songs are motivators for movement. They release tension, charge the battery, and change frowns to laughs.

Music doesn't come cheap these days, so when you can get your heart and lungs conditioned with the added treat of music, count yourself among the lucky. Remember those cadence exercises from school days? Music would have made those high school pushups easier to swallow.

So wear your earphones and pick up your feet, or yell a few bars of your exercise music. It's good for the chest muscles, and it'll keep you fit, too.

• Jerry Vance is owner of The Sweat Shop/Wet Sweat. She offers classes through Carson City Recreation and Aquatics Center and is a fitness instructor for the Carson City Senior Citizens Center.


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