We might help you climb killer hills and fight fatigue, but the latest research shows that a reliance on earbuds while exercising may be risky – in more ways than you think.

By now, most us know we should curb the urge to update our status, check our email and fire off a “I’m running late!” SMS while behind the wheel. Yet we still zone out to music or fiddle with our iThings while walking, jogging or cycling. The danger? Distracted exercising may come with risks similar to those of distracted driving – and walking down a deserted alley late at night. Here’s why tuning out during a workout can be very hazardous to your health.

Description: Tinnitus may be the least of your worries: listen up.

Tinnitus may be the least of your worries: listen up.

Hear no evil

Hit any popular running route and you’ll have an easier time counting the people who aren’t wearing earbuds than those who are. Music isn’t distracting only because it siphons off your ability to hear other noises like a car or potential attacker approaching, says psychologist Dr Diana Deutsch, who researches the perception of sound. “Music floods the brain and takes over your thought processes,” she explains. “You concentrate on the lyrics, or the music evokes certain memories that sends you into a daydream.”

Some scientists speculate that music may even have the power to dampen your sight. “The tempo can interfere with the rate at which your brain perceives images that are passing by you, which could trip you up,” says Deutsch. In short, music draws your attention away from what you’re doing and increases your risk of literally running into a dangerous situation like an oncoming bus, a malicious stranger or a lamppost.

Description: Ditch the earbuds and tune into nature

Ditch the earbuds and tune into nature

Press pause

Also, your peppy playlist doesn’t just compromise your safety; it can interfere with the quality of your workout. “Many people exercise while listening to music because they don’t want to think about how uncomfortable they feel,” Dr Stan Beecham. “But being distracted severs the connection between your body and mind, so you’re no longer tuned in to the subtle signals your body relays, like when it’s ready to speed up and when it needs to slow down”

Music stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the fight-or-fight response, says sports psychologist Dr Costas Karageorghis, author of Inside Sport Psychology. So the jolt you get when a hearty beat like Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” comes on is very real. When timed right, it could give you the thrust you need to hammer up a hill or cross a finish line. But starting a run with that song could cause you to overexert yourself and then fizzle out fast. On the other hand, music that’s too mellow may prevent you from pushing yourself to the next level, says kinesiology professor Dr Michael Sachs.

Muting your brain to your body’s reactions can also increase your risk of injury. By muffling the brain-body connection, if you tweak an ankle or knee, “you’re not going to be able to pick up on pain sensations from a minor injury if you’re zoned out to music,” says Sachs. Instead of stopping, you might run, pedal or paddle through it until the pain becomes so severe that it intrudes on your music. “By then, the injury may be more serious than if you had stopped and addressed the initial ache immediately,” he says.

Can’t bear even a trial separation from your tunes? With just a few simple adjustments, you can make your workouts safer and more effective while still rocking out (see “Please Don’t Stop the Music,” right)

But if you’re ready to give wireless workouts a go, check out “Your Workout: Unplugged” on the previous page. You may start to prefer the symphony of your surroundings.

 Your Workout: Unplugged

Ready to sweat in silence? Put these tips into action and you’ll get even more from your workout while keeping yourself entertained.

Tap into your breath

Whether you’re running, riding or walking, try matching your inhalations and exhalations with what your feet are doing. For instance, while running, inhale over four footballs (right, left, right, left) and exhale for the same length. “Counting will keep your mind occupied but not distracted,” says psychologist Dr Stan Beecham. “At the same time, you’ll be taking slower, longer, deeper breaths.” This pumps oxygen into your bloodstream, which feeds your muscles and boosts endurance.

Do fartleks (Swedish for “speed play”)

“This is the adult version of “I’ll race you to the tree,” explains Matt Fitzgerald, author of Brain Training For Runners. Here’s what to do: periodically kick up your speed from one landmark – a free or stop sign – to another. Try sprinkling eight fartlerks into a 45-minute workout. “The hard work of sprinting won’t feel as difficult because the end of each burst will always be in sight,” says Fitzgerald.

Scan your body

Starting with your right foot, notice what it’s doing. Is it turning in? Is it turning out? Now focus on your left foot. “The goal is for your body to be as symmetrical as possible. You want to use both sides evenly,” says Fitzgerald. Work your way up your calves, knees, hips, shoulders, arms, neck and head. Notice how your body feels. If you encounter any tension, imagine those muscles releasing.

Play mind games

Keep a mental list of the different provincial licence plates that go by or count how many dogs you see. If the urge to listen to music hits, sing to yourself. When you need to stop and cross a street, you’ll have much more control over the music that’s playing in your head than if you were using an iPod.

Top search
- 6 Ways To Have a Natural Miscarriage
- Foods That Cause Miscarriage
- Losing Weight In A Week With Honey
- Can You Eat Crab Meat During Pregnancy?
- Grape Is Pregnant Women’s Friend
- 4 Kinds Of Fruit That Can Increase Risk Of Miscarriage
- Some Drinks Pregnant Women Should Say No With
- Signs Proving You Have Boy Pregnancy
- Why Do Pregnant Women Have Stomachache When Eating?
- Top Foods That Pregnant Women Should Be Careful Of
- 6 Kinds Of Vegetable That Increase Risk Of Miscarriage
- Welcome to your Third Trimester (part 10) - Blood tests & Pelvic girdle pain
- Welcome to your Third Trimester (part 9) - Doppler scans
- You In Shape, Get Inspire! – Part 3
- You In Shape, Get Inspire! – Part 2
- You In Shape, Get Inspire! – Part 1
- Work Out or Sit It Out?
- The Pet Prescription : Avoid high blood pressure & Encourage Alzheimer patients and their family
- 3 Interesting Healthy Secrets
- Welcome to your Third Trimester (part 8) - Burning calories
- Welcome to your Third Trimester (part 7)
Top keywords
Miscarriage Pregnant Pregnancy Pregnancy day by day Pregnancy week by week Losing Weight Stress Placenta Makeup Collection
Top 5
- 5 Ways to Support Your Baby Development
- 5 Tips for Safe Exercise During Pregnancy
- Four Natural Ways Alternative Medicine Can Help You Get Pregnant (part 2)
- Four Natural Ways Alternative Medicine Can Help You Get Pregnant (part 1)
- Is Your Mental Health Causing You to Gain Weight (part 2) - Bipolar Disorder Associated with Weight Gain