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Since cardiovascular (cardio) exercise is that which gets oxygen moving quickly through the body and the heart rate up, choosing upbeat, fast-paced music is a good idea. However, for the warm ups and cool downs before and after the main exercise, the cardio music should be more suitable for slower stretching. In keeping the basic pace of your music matched to the general speed of your movements, your cardio workouts can then be more effective.
In preparing your workout playlist of songs, you can use the lengths of each piece, as noted beside the song names, writing credits and other information on the albums. For example, if you're planning on about eight minutes of warm-up stretches, you may need three or four slower songs depending on the length of each piece. You could then use about the same number of different slower songs for your cool down stretches. You should pick the slow cardio music that you love to listen to and that will work with your stretching routines.
For the warm ups and cool downs, you shouldn't choose any music with a fast beat, as holding stretches in slow movements is best. Peaceful, calming music can also help you breathe deeply as you prepare your body for a fast-paced routine or when you are slowing it down after one. If you prefer, you may choose instrumental music only or alternate these pieces with soothing-voiced songs. Song lyrics should also be inspiring as well as calming to you.
In choosing cardio music for the main, most vigorous part of your workout, you should pick your favorite upbeat songs. You may want to mix genres, such as rock with jazz, or stay with one type of fast-paced music. Instrumental dance music with a fast beat can work very well also. Songs with lyrics about dancing can help inspire you to keep moving as you enjoy the music.
If you make several different mixes of songs for your cardio workouts, you can vary the music. Listening to the same cardio music each time you exercise can become tiring and you may not feel like exercising as much as you would if you have different workout song compilations. The whole idea of good workout music is to inspire you to want to move using as much energy as possible. Not just the speed of cardio routines, but how high the arms and legs are lifted and with what force can increase the benefits to the body.
These are good suggestions for planning a music workout, and I use this method, myself. If you want music you can really push your workout with, think about the songs that make you turn the radio up full blast and sing at the top of your lungs. Chances are, having that song in your workout mix will give you a great boost of energy when you need it.
A friend of mine says a must have in his mix is "The Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin. One of my favorites is "Hold Back the Rain," by Duran Duran. But use whatever works best to get you moving.