Dance to my Beat

Music is believed to have been in existence for at least 55,000 years. Music has been found in almost every culture, including isolated tribes. It is thought to have originated in Africa and then spread globally. The oldest known song is from 3400 years ago from a place called Ugarit. Indian scriptures too, refer to music (marga); the Samaveda, for example, describes music at length. There is something primaeval and animalistic about music. In the now famous movie, Matrix, before a war is about to commence, the last standing group of humanity gets together in a cavern to dance to music. Such is the importance of music.

You and I are unlikely to go to war anytime soon. Still, that is no reason not to make music an integral part of our lives. Costas Karagoerghis, believed to be a world leader on the psychology of exercise music, said music is “a type of legal performance-enhancing drug.” Other researchers found similar things. For example athletes respond with improved performance while listening to music; particularly true of music that had strong beats. So much so that there is even a science around the number of beats per minute that you should be listening while running or cycling.

The science behind the association of music and physical activity seems to revolve around the release of feel-good chemicals in your body. Alternatively, it is also possibly a distraction from the physical effort you might be experiencing. Scientists have not established with certainty the exact association. In any case, given the long history of music, our brains have probably come to associate music with movement.

So should you be figuring out how to ensure that your ear pods don’t fall off while you lift that 100 pounds on your barbell? Well, US Track & Field, the Governing body for running banned the use of music. Personally, I find myself not thinking much while running or strength training; enough to need music. What moves you?


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.