But just because it's winter doesn't mean it's time for those of us with diabetes to stop exercising. Getting our regular exercise, eating nutritious food, and if necessary, taking diabetes medication are the three keys to control -- and probably in that order.
So almost every day now I work out for an hour on the treadmill in fitness center where I live. Listening to music on an iPod there has several benefits.
When I started going to the fitness center a couple of years ago, I used my iPod to listen to music or books so that I could blot out the sounds of the incessant television. But now I have positive reasons to use it to listen to music.
Music with a strong beat helps me exercise longer and faster. I have never been a speed demon, but in the past couple of years I have enjoyed speeding up from a treadmill pace of about 2 miles per hour to around 3.8 mph.
Some of that comes from feeling better and some from the encouragement of the music I listen to. The encouragement in turn makes me feel better, an example of a virtuous circle.
"Studies have shown that listening to music during exercise can improve results, both in terms of being a motivator (people exercise longer and more vigorously to music) and as a distraction from negatives like fatigue," writes Steven Kurutz in "They’re Playing My Song. Time to Work Out."
My song, however, is usually a lot more mellow than anything appropriate to a fitness center. In any other context, my kind of music is Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart. But when I am working out I need for the music to have a strong beat.
The right pace depends on your goal, suggests James Sundquist in his article, "Exercise Pacing and Use of Music." He's the president of the Medical & Sports Music Institute of America. If you want to lose weight, you need to walk for one to two hours a day at about 120 steps (beats) per minute, Mr. Sundquist says. But that's not quite in the aerobic zone for most of us, and that requires a faster pace of about 140 steps per minute. If your goal is to build endurance and increase your fitness, you need to work out at an even faster pace of 160 or more steps per minute.
The pace or the beat or the tempo of effective exercise music has a scientific basis, according to Dr. Costas Karageorghis, a reader in sport psychology at England's Brunel University. "For a piece of music to truly inspire the listener, it must have strong rhythmic qualities that match the activity at hand and also a tempo which matches the predicted heart rate," he writes. Dr. Karageorghis recommends that the tune's BPM should be between 120 and 140, which roughly corresponds to our average heart rate during a workout.
That pace coincides with the range of most commercial dance music. So I turned to Power Music, which bills itself as "the worlds #1 source of fitness music." Power Music neatly categorizes its albums several ways, including BPM.