The Beat of My G-G-Generation - and Yours!

The Beat of My G-G-Generation - and Yours!

Music serves as both metronome and timer, keeping our cadence at an even tempo or signaling us to move from one activity to another. We arrange our music lists to remind us to slow down or speed up, depending on our goals. 

Choosing music for a run or workout is a personal decision, but music has one attribute that affects us all, and that's the beat. Or more specifically, the beats per minute (bpm). 

If you're not too picky about being precise, it's easy to find the bpm of your favorite tunes; all you need is a stopwatch. Here's how I find the bpm: I start the song and tap out the beat with my foot. As soon as I have the rhythm, I start the stop watch, count the taps out loud for 15 seconds, multiply that number by 4, and voila! I have the beats-per-minute. Probably not the most scientific way to get the bpm, but it's highly personalized and gets me to within plus or minus 4 beats per minute. 

I add the bpm to the end of the song title, then sort my music into three lists based on the bpm:

  • Warm up and cool down: 88-118 bpm. These songs inspire a brisk walking pace and get my heart rate up in preparation for running or working out. 
  • Moving and shaking: 120-128 bpm. I spend a lot of time in this range. When I run or do step aerobics with these tunes my heart rate increases to a point that I can sustain for long periods while still being aerobically challenged. 
  • Movin’ and shakin’ faster: 130 bpm and higher. I place these songs to play around the time when I need to increase my exertion to near maximum. 

I pick and choose songs from each of these sections to create playlists that match my goals and workout length, trying to keep it random so I don't get into a musical rut.  

Warming up and Cooling Down: 88-118 bpm

  • American Woman (88 bpm) Lenny Kravitz cover
  • Another Brick In The Wall (Parts 1,2,3) (110 bpm) Korn cover
  • Back in Black (96 bpm) AC/DC
  • Dancing Queen (112 bpm) ABBA
  • December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night) (112 bpm) Four Seasons
  • I Want You to Want Me (112 bpm) Cheap Trick
  • Jive Talking (112 bpm) BeeGees
  • The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys (108 bpm) Traffic
  • Lookin' Out My Back Door (112 bpm) Credence Clearwater Revival
  • My Generation (104 ppm) The Who
  • Paradise City (96 bpm) Guns N' Roses
  • Renegade (112 bpm) Styx
  • Snow (Hey Oh) (112 bpm) Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Sweet Home Alabama (112 bpm) Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • Sympathy for the Devil (112 ppm) Guns N’ Roses cover
  • That's The Way (I Like It) (112 bpm)  KC & The Sunshine Band
  • Vienna (120 bpm) Savatage
  • When You're Hot You're Hot (112 bpm) Jerry Reed

Moving and Shaking: 120-128 bpm

  • Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In (96 - 130 bpm) The 5th Dimension
  • Ants Marching (120 bpm) Dave Mathews Band
  • Dancing In The Street (120 bpm) The Mamas & The Papas    
  • Don't Stop Believin' (120 bpm) Journey
  • Down on the Corner (120 bpm) Credence Clearwater Revival
  • Enter Sandman (128 bpm) Metallica
  • Flashdance…What A Feeling (128 bpm) Irene Cara
  • Ghostbusters (120 bpm) Ray Parker Jr.
  • Higher Ground (128 bpm)  Stevie Wonder
  • I Heard It Through The Grapevine (120 bpm) Creedence Clearwater Revival cover
  • I've Got To Use My Imagination (128 bpm) Gladys Knight & The Pips
  • Joy To The World (128 bpm) Three Dog Night
  • Layla (120 bpm) Derek & The Dominos    
  • Let's Get Physical (128 bpm) Olivia Newton John
  • Little Willie (128 bpm) Poison cover
  • Louie Louie (128 bpm) The Kingsmen
  • Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (120 bpm) The Beatles    
  • Rebel Rebel (128 bpm) David Bowie    
  • Remedy (128 bpm) Seether
  • Rumour Has It (128 bpm) Adele
  • Shambala (128 bpm) Three Dog Night
  • Stuck in the Middle with you (128 bpm) Stealer’s Wheel
  • Sympathy for the Devil (120 ppm) Rolling Stones
  • Sugar, Sugar (128 bpm) The Archies
  • Twilight Zone (120 bpm) Golden Earring
  • Under Pressure (120 bpm) Queen/Bowie
  • Ventura Highway (128 bpm) America    
  • Venus (128 bpm) from the movie Sing
  • We Are Family (120 bpm) Sister Sledge
  • Welcome to the Jungle (128 bpm) Guns N’ Roses
  • Word Up! (120 bpm) Korn
  • Y'all Want A Single (120 bpm) Korn
  • Y.M.C.A. (128 bpm) Village People

Movin’ and Shakin’ Faster: 130 bpm and higher

  • Crazy Train (136 bpm) Ozzy Osbourne
  • Hi Hi Hi (136 bpm) Paul McCartney and Wings
  • Higher Ground (144 bpm) Red Hot Chili Peppers cover
  • I Want to Hold Your Hand (136 bpm) Beatles
  • Jumpin’ Jack Flash (140 bpm) Rolling Stones
  • Medicine Jar (144 bpm) Paul McCartney & Wings
  • Mony Mony (136 bpm) Billy Idol cover
  • Satisfaction (136 bpm) Rolling Stones
  • School’s Out (136 bpm) Alice Cooper
  • S.E.X. (136 bpm) Nickleback
  • Shake it Off (160 bpm) from the movie Sing
  • Suffragette City (144 ppm) David Bowie
  • Whiskey in the Jar (136 bpm) Metallica cover

Music has the power to turn walking, running, and exercise into something fun and enjoyable. You just need to find your groove and move! 


image credit: CC0 Public Domain

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