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Can music really help inspire you to run off some extra calories?

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Whether you simply want some encouragement when you go for a leisurely jog or are looking for the inspiration to train for an event, the answer is yes, music can help.

This is what the professor of sports psychology at Brunel University, Costas Karageorghis, has to say. "With non elite athletes, I've found that listening to the right songs before and during exercise will not simply reduce feelings of tiredness. It will also increase performance levels by up to 20 per cent".

So what are the right songs?

It's a combination of the right vibe, lyrics and beats. Just like DJs use the build in tempo to make the dancefloor lift off, the tempo of a particular song can build the energy of a person running. Similarly, feisty lyrics can also pump up motivation to move. So, not surprisingly, dance tracks and thrashing rock are popular.

But most effective of all, is if the music you listen to also has a beat that matches and drives your running stride. Unfortunately most music has a beat that is too slow. You've probably found yourself walking in time to the beat of music playing on your iPod.

And of course the other holy grail is the perfect playlist - the one that warms you up at the beginning, keeps you going once you get into the zone, peps you up when you flag and cools you down at the end of your workout. And like all music, you start to associate the tracks with certain feelings of energy .. remember the track that brought a tear to your eye in the months following a painful break up. So the more you listen to a playlist and come to associate it with a certain mental energy the better it can drive you.

So where do you go for the perfect playlist with music that gives you the right kind of lyrics, vibe and beat?

There are websites like www.jogtunes.com which allow you to buy tracks categorised by beats per minute and create playlists of your own. And the Nike Plus website will direct you to what they call "powersongs" in the iTunes store like "Eye of the Tiger".

But if you want it on a plate - ready made compilations of energising music, creating professionally designed work outs, with beats to run to, feisty lyrics and voice over coaching - then head for www.audiofuel.co.uk. And their lowest intensity compilations are suitably slow for people who want to walk before they run!

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