Should your workout be loud or quiet? Changing the volume may change the mental health benefits

Ppicture this: You come home from a frustrating day at work and longing for an upbeat Zumba class with the music so loud you can’t help but miss out. Or maybe all you want is to calm your nerves with a relaxing yoga session, listening to nothing but the sounds of your own breathing.

If you’ve ever looked for either extreme, you know that the aura and volume of a group fitness class can really affect how you feel during and after your workout. I think of loudness as a sensory experience from a developmental perspective, says Willow McGinty, LMHC, a therapist at Thriveworks in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who specializes in anxiety, coping skills, stress, and ADHD. She is also a devotee of weekly group fitness classes and a former college athlete. Loud sounds in nature tend to come from things we need to watch out for because otherwise there can be dangerous consequences. So loud workouts are great when you need motivation, an energy boost, or to focus on something other than your thoughts.

Not sure if your body needs it or something more relaxing? Below, the experts share what you can expect to get from each option.

The case for the quietest workout

1. They offer stress relief

Yoga classes and hot girl walks are full of benefits, especially after a stressful day. We can choose a quieter exercise experience for a sense of peace, stress relief, and to manage reactions to hectic times in life, says McGinty. (Fun fact: Some yoga poses can even help your body release stress and anxiety.) In fact, according to a study by the International Journal of Yogayoga can reduce stress, depression and chronic pain and improve your overall well-being.

2. They can replace meditation

The quieter options can sometimes work as a more active form of meditation. Quiet workouts offer some people meditative benefits that allow them to calm their mind and lower their heart rate through breathing, relaxing music, etc., he says Rishi Mandal, CEO of fitness app Future. Just as we block out time for ourselves to start an energizing workout, it’s equally necessary to allow ourselves time to take things slow and relax. While meditation can be an extremely effective tool for managing our mental health, many people find it difficult to simply stay still, so an alternative that brings similar benefits through movement might seem more feasible.

3. They bring greater awareness of the body

Quieter workouts may be preferable for people who have sensory issues, are new to training, are trying to recover from disordered eating or body dysmorphia, or are in the luteal and menstrual phases of their cycle when the anxiety is high, McGinty continues.

That’s because quieter workouts can help us become more aware of our bodily signals and pain, both internal and external. People who feel lost in life have trouble identifying emotions, and people who are experiencing major life transitions may benefit the most, she says. Quieter workouts can help us be aware of movements that trigger or release painful/touching feelings.

A quiet workout can also trigger greater focus and a gentler approach, which can help us better heal any injuries we might be treating, says McGinty.

4. They can help keep us consistent

The quieter classes also allow for flexibility when you want to move your body but aren’t very up to it. In that sense, they help you maintain a regular exercise routine if that is a personal goal. Remember, the best fitness regimen is one you stick to, so even just stretching and spending time in a quiet mode will have a huge impact, says Mandal.

The best quiet training options

McGinty recommends walking in the park and listening to natural sounds, doing traditional South Asian yoga practices, and swimming. Mandal mentions tai chi, qigong and yoga as indoor options, as well as gardening, hiking and fishing in the warmer months.

Relax by lighting your om:

The case for the loudest workout

1. They can make it easier to train harder

When you’re looking to kick in to an intense, sweat-filled workout, it’s time to really pump the jams. Some individuals feel that loud music and a high-energy environment enhance their performance, causing them to lift heavier weights, run faster, or work harder when surrounded by noise and music, notes Mandal.

But music isn’t the only source of noise, so are coaches and instructors. Members tell us they get a jolt of energy when they hear audio motivation and advice from their trainer during a workout, Mandal says.

2. You can get lost in the noise

Another benefit of loud workouts: They’re a good distraction. Louder workouts might make sense for people who need an escape, McGinty says. Loud, high-intensity workouts are popular with my clients who are exercising as part of their effort to cease self-harm practices, and as a result, loud workouts are viewed as a harm-reduction technique for some.

3. They can give you energy

Plus, loud workouts can give you energy and help you feel more positive, according to McGinty. He prefers to do them in the morning for this reason. Which makes sense, since, as Mandal points out, they typically get your heart rate going, get you pumped, and help get you into the zone.

But be sure to turn up the volume safely

McGinty warns of the safety and health risks of loud workouts. For example, loud music while running/walking outside can decrease our situational awareness and make us more vulnerable to nefarious characters or other environmental hazards, she says. We can also damage our hearing if decibel levels are too high for too long.

When attending group fitness classes where the music is too loud for comfort, McGinty uses earplugs. She also encourages people working on their assertiveness and self-defense skills to ask the instructor to turn down the volume if it’s painful.

The best high volume training options

McGinty’s favorite upbeat class is hosted by Orangetheory Fitness, though she notes that HIIT classes and fun-lit indoor cycling classes are other popular, high-energy options. Mandal points out that more experience-based ways to get moving are also on the rise, like rage rooms, ax throwing, paintball, and laser tag.

An optimal workout [routine] for you can include extensive audio support AND some sounds quieter and more meditative, says Mandal. Finding that personal mix is ​​what it’s all about.

Turn up the playlist and sweat it out with this HIIT workout:

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