Walk into any gym and you will readily hear the thumping music constantly played for members. I always think this is strange since most of the young people who the music targets already have their headphones on and are listening to their own music. In any case, the pop/aerobic/dance music is even louder in the group fitness classes, especially in the most popular classes such as indoor cycling, zumba, and barre classes. You may even find yoga and pilates classes that “use” music to accompany the exercises. While it is true that music can help inspire you to keep going during a long workout, you can derive real benefits from regularly working out to silence.
Here’s why: Exercise is often seen as just a means to burn calories and shape muscles, but the truth is that it is also an opportunity to learn about how your body works and to develop better skills at moving. In this way, a workout can be seen as a lesson in self-awareness. Most of us are inundated with sights and sounds all day long, and our minds are distracted from being plugged in most of the time. Exercising in silence gives you a chance to unplug completely, quiet your mind, and just listen to your body. Educators know that we learn better in silence and that focus improves.
I have found, and many others have said, that often the answer to a problem comes to mind in the middle of a run (done without headphones), or during some other aerobic activity. There is something about when you are just allowing your body to move and just listening to your breathing that triggers the subconscious to heightened levels of awareness and clarity. This has been called “moving meditation,” and it is how many people would also describe the practice of yoga. Being in the moment when exercising not only enhances focus, but can also boost creativity, relieve stress, and improve overall performance as you learn to relax unnecessary tension and be one with your body.
Paying attention to the body when exercising also helps us to develop trust in ourselves. Taking the time to notice all the things your body does for you and to simply appreciate that is a nice way to show gratitude to your body. Know that you and your body have gone through a lot together, and will continue to for a good long time. In being strong, stretching, and moving in silence, you can listen to your heart and your inner voice, discover your own methods of knowing, and be your own master.
So the next time you exercise, try doing so in silence and hear all that a quiet mind and finely tuned body have to tell you.