The Times at the weekend printed this article. Get into the groove To hit a winning rhythm, make sure you workout to your favourite sounds, says Lucy Broadbent When Kelly Holmes won her double Olympic gold last year, it was with the help of a little secret that she hasnât let on to too many. Music. More specifically the song Red Light, by Linda Clifford. Every day when she was circuit training in preparation for the Olympics, she would have the single, which is from the soundtrack of Fame, playing on her personal stereo. The upbeat tempo helped to keep her going. Listening to Elvis in the gym helped to motivate the England cricketer Freddie Flintoff and when the British tennis player Andrew Murray walked out on court at the start of each match at Wimbledon this year, observant spectators may have noticed that he was plugged into his iPod. The sounds he was listening to, to fire himself up, included Letâs Get It Started, by Black Eyed Peas. Anyone who exercises while listening to a Walkman or iPod will know that music makes working out seem easier. But now a number of studies carried out in the UK and United States have proved that music is a more powerful motivator than any personal trainer or coach. It can make you exercise harder, burn calories faster and it is also helping athletes to win competitions. âItâs astonishing the difference music makes,â says Dr Jimmy Smith, a sports psychologist at Southwestern University, in Texas, and responsible for one of the leading studies into the phenomenon. âAnd it doesnât matter if itâs Kylie Minogue, country and western or Mozart. The key issue is that it has to be music that the exerciser loves.â Dr Smith tested a group of 15 students four times on exercise bicycles, asking each of them to cycle until they were exhausted. First they pedalled with no music, then to slow-paced tracks, to fast-paced tracks and, finally, to the music of their choice. Every one of them cycled further, and at a higher intensity, with the music of their choice. âThat shocked us,â says Dr Smith. âIt proved that the musicâs tempo was irrelevant. There have been a number of studies that have shown that music can help exercisers to work out for longer periods. I wanted to find out which types work best.â Yet, while music can motivate it can also demotivate, according to Dr Costas Karageorghis, a senior lecturer in sport psychology at Brunel University. He has been researching the psychological and physical effects that music has on exercise and sports performance for more than 12 years. âIf it doesnât stem from your socio-cultural background, or if itâs music that doesnât have any personal meaning, it can reduce your level of motivation. In the same way that you have a negative association with a song, say, that was playing when you were dumped by your partner, it can have a demotivating effect owing to the impact that it has on your emotions.â Human beings are hard-wired to process music on both a motor and an emotional level, says Mark Bodner, the director of research for the Mind Institute, a brain research facility in California. âMusic seems to be a kind of prelanguage that we are born with. It taps into something within us that is truly innate. We all have our own subjective experience with rhythm and melody.â When we are exercising, music also helps us to disassociate ourselves from the pain of pushing ourselves hard, according to Renee Murphy, a professor in exercise science at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, who has also conducted a study into music and exercise. âOur research leads us to believe that if people are listening to music while they exercise, they are not feeling the soreness, or the fatigue, or the heavy breathing or the pounding heart. All these things become secondary to the enjoyment of the music. Interestingly enough though, we found that women responded better to music than men. We tested a mixed group on a treadmill by playing randomly selected music. Overall, it was the women who ran further and faster.â Ironically, Dr Smith believes that the right music can help to cut down the amount of time that exercisers spend at the gym. âIf you want to burn calories, you either exercise longer at a slower pace, or you can exercise more intensely for less time. Music can help individuals to exercise more intensely, so if youâre in a time-crunch, listening to the music you love is going to get you out of the gym quicker.â I know music threads have been done before but I wanted to know what everyones favourite song to run to would be (or any excercise). The one that would get you up a steep hill or keep you going for miles. Mine would include Paint it Black - Rolling Stones, Run to the Hills - Iron Maiden, Why - Bronski Beat, and current favourite Dreaming of You - The Coral. I have a whole Ipod more as well but these are for starters.