I never imagined making exercise mixes would be so time-consuming; I haven’t kept close track, but I looked up during one session of going through my music and adding them to the mix and three hours had gone by. I’ve now burned three CDs, and every one of them has more than one track that really doesn’t  have enough oomph.

But I never realized just how useful they could be for keeping up your pace while exercising.

A couple of years ago, I was, for a few months, very consistent about walking on the treadmill in the evenings and would watch television while walking. I thought that was the way to go, as it kept my mind off the fact I was, in fact, exercising, even if at a very slow speed. But using music actually has been better; the right music gets you hyped up.

My 26-year-old son, who is a music snob in general, was completely unimpressed with what I’d come up with; the Moulin Rouge version of Lady Marmalade  made him feel like he was “getting an estrogen flash.” (Yes, I raised a smart ass.) But for an out-of-shape 50-year-old woman, I think the following songs work quite well:

  • The aformentioned Moulin Rouge version of Lady Marmalade as well as its version of  Rhythm of the Night
  • Queen: Another One Bites the Dust, Don’t Stop Me Now (which now always makes me think of Shaun of the Dead), Crazy Little Thing Called Love, and Killer Queen. Surprisingly, there were fewer Queen songs than I thought would work. Sometimes the problem is that they’re slower than you realize because they get you hyped up anyway (e.g., We Will Rock You) or that you remember the fast bits, but the song changes beat at some point (e.g., Bohemian Rhapsody or The Prophet’s Song).
  • Billy Joel: We Didn’t Start the Fire, Only the Good Die Young (even though I keep wondering how I can like a song that basically says “You’re going to lose your virginity at some point, might as well do it with me”), Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song), You May Be Right, It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me, Pressure and You’re Only Human (Second Wind)
  • Elton John (Yeah, I couldn’t do one Piano Man without the other):  I’m Still Standing, Crocodile Rock (although I can only listen to it once in a while — not a personal fave), Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting, The Bitch is Back and Philadelphia Freedom.  I was surprised how slow Bennie and the Jets is.
  • Fleetwood Mac: Second Hand News and Go Your Own Way.
  • Huey Lewis and the News: The Heart of Rock & Roll, I Want a New Drug (can’t listen to it without thinking about the lawsuit Lewis brought against Ray Parker Jr. over the Ghostbuster’s theme; saw something about it on tv at some point and thought, geez, why didn’t I pick up on the fact that they are almost exactly the same song, different tempo), Walking on a Thin Line and You Crack Me Up.
  • Kenny Loggins:  Danger Zone and I’m AlrightFootloose is iffy for me, but it may be that my ancient boombox won’t play it quite right.
  • Men at Work: Down Under
  • Bob Seger: Old Time Rock and Roll
  • Simon & Garfunkel: My first thought was no way they’d have something fast enough. Shocked me to find Cecilia works.
  • Styx: Rockin’ the Paradise, Nothing Ever Goes as Planned and Too Much Time on my Hands
  • The Eagles: Life in the Fast Lane

Some of these may get cut as I get faster, but right now, they work fine. According to Windows Media Player, the above list is two hours, 13 minutes, and 36 seconds, so I’m pretty good for the moment. Most workouts have come in at under 30 minutes, so that’s four workouts before I would have to repeat.

Hints for finding music for your exercise mix:  A song  may be a good candidate if : 1) It’s an angry, screw-you break-up song, or, 2) It’s got “Rock and Roll” in the title. No guarantee, of course. I’m sure there are some Michael Jackson songs that would work, but I’m still creeped out when I hear him.

YMMV, but I didn’t find anything in any of my tracks from Seals & Crofts, Sarah McLachlan, or Christopher Cross. If you have any nominees, I’m listening. That list and the one above is enough to give anyone an idea of my era and taste.

I’ve also realized I know fewer of the lyrics of most of these songs than I thought I did. Elton John, well, that’s no surprise: I’m generally surprised if I understand anything but the title, which he always managed to articulate quite clearly. But some of the others I thought I knew well, and most have at least line that I’ve no idea what the lyrics are.  Thank God for the internet, where multiples sites offer you the lyrics. I guess that’s why they stopped putting them in the CDs.

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