Workouts inspired by Taylor Swift are trending. Can your patients benefit from them?

By Lisa Marie Basile | Fact-checked by Jessica Wrubel
Published July 19, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Workouts based around Taylor Swift’s music are trending. Some of the more popular ones include treadmill walking workouts and dance routines. 

  • Fitness experts believe these workouts could provide a solid exercise option, ideally mixed into a more well-rounded fitness regimen. Both dance and treadmill walking boast key health benefits. 

  • Research also suggests that people who listen to music while working out may see increased exercise performance.

If you scroll through YouTube looking for fitness content, there’s a high likelihood that you’ve come across a number of workout videos incorporating the music of Taylor Swift. Or, maybe you have patients asking you whether these routines can help them break a sweat. 

A few popular routines include Maddie Lymburner (known as MadFit)’s 15-minute Taylor Swift dance party workout and the “official Taylor Swift treadmill strut,” designed by TikTok creator Allie Bennett. While these are two popular workouts, there are a number of fitness videos based on Swift’s music.

The concept around the Taylor Swift treadmill workout (described by Bennett as “36 minutes of pure bangers”) is fairly simple: Bennett curated a workout playlist for people to “strut” to while on a treadmill. The songs start at a “warm-up” pace (Bennett herself starts the first song at 3.5 miles per hour or mph), continue on to faster tunes, and then finish with a cool-down track. 

Bennett recommends people speed by .1 mph each time the song changes and encourages people to either run during the last two tracks (she runs at 7 mph) or—to accommodate a range of abilities—to simply walk at a faster speed. 

MadFit’s Taylor Swift dance party workout video incorporates fitness moves like squats during a dance session the creator describes as “full-body cardio.” Clocking in at around 15 minutes, it provides half of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)’s recommended daily 30 minutes of exercise. To make up for the other 15 minutes, users could tack on another 15 minutes of exercise or add  MadFit’s warm-ups and cool-down videos to the mix.[] 

Do these trends provide a solid workout?

Research has shown that brisk treadmill walking can improve cardiorespiratory function and quality of life (patient-reported) in women, while another study shows that treadmill walking—versus outdoors—improves spatial and temporal gait characteristics more effectively.[][]

Tom Eskey, a certified personal trainer, nutrition coach, and founder of Garage Gym Revisited, thinks the treadmill strut is a great way to offer an accessible movement option to the masses. 

“She even adds a scaled option [the walking option or 7 mph run], making the workout especially accessible,” Eskey says. “This workout/challenge is a wonderful option for those who desire a little extra motivation during their walks or runs and are fans of Taylor Swift.”

Reda Elmardi, a certified strength and conditioning specialist trainer, registered dietician, and certified nutritionist says that the dance workout “combines squats, dance moves, and jumping jacks to get your body moving. It’s perfect for people who want a quick and easy workout that can be done anywhere. And because it’s such a versatile routine, you can use it to build muscle or lose weight.” 

However, Elmardi says there may be other, more effective options for weight loss or building muscle since it’s not as physically challenging as other exercise programs. 

Regarding the Swift dance video, Eskey notes another limitation: It lacks explicit instructions on how to perform the movements. “Theoretically, a trainee could stop and repeat the video over and over in order to learn the movements,” he says. “But in this case, they’re probably spending more time moving their mouse around than actually exercising. And that time spent learning isn’t the most effective way to work out.”

However, when dance is done consistently, it provides a good workout. In older[] adults, dance exercise can improve muscle strength, balance, and flexibility, according to the Annals of Geriatric Medicine and Research. Another study found that Zumba-style dance can also boost vitality and mental health, especially in sedentary women.[] 

Other research published in Sports Medicine found that dance significantly improved body composition, blood biomarkers, and musculoskeletal function. “Undertaking structured dance of any genre is equally and occasionally more effective than other types of structured exercise for improving a range of health outcome measures,” the authors wrote.[] 

Music’s influence on exercise performance 

Elmardi also says that music can be a great motivator for some people when it comes to working out. 

“If you're looking to get fit, there's no doubt that doing exercises to music can be a motivating factor,” Elmardi says, citing studies that show that musical tempo can influence workout performance. 

In fact, research published in The International Journal of Physiology, Pathophysiology and Pharmacology (IJPPP) foundMusic has ergogenic effects as well, it increases exercise performance, delays fatigue and increases performance and endurance, power and strength”—in both men and women. 

In a study conducted by IJPPP aimed at exploring the effect of music on exercise performance and heart rate in young untrained adults using submaximal exercise,  50 subjects aged 19-25 (50% women, 50% men) exercised in the morning for 10 days. They had to exercise both while listening to and without listening to fast and loud music. 

The researchers found that the subjects reached maximum heart rate during exercise with music—significantly higher than exercising without music. They also found that exercise duration even increased when music was played. The researchers summarized that “music may exert an ergogenic and distractive effect during exercise under conditions of self-paced moderate exercise and self-selected music. Motivation by music can lead to increase in exercise duration, which is a stress alleviator in young medical students. Nevertheless, the importance and beneficial effect of music on health cannot be underestimated.”

“Ultimately, it is up to the individual to decide whether or not working out with music is something they want to do,” Elmardi says. In short, if your patients aren’t getting anything out of music-based workouts, encourage them to switch to another kind of workout or workout environment that empowers them. 

In the end, Eskey says that trending pop music-based workouts “could serve as a ‘gateway’ method for promoting enjoyable movement and fitness” but that these workouts may not be enough on their own, depending on your patient’s interests or fitness needs.

“Those who want a more in-depth, well-rounded fitness routine will likely need to spend a little bit of time both researching different key categories of fitness, including strength development, functional fitness, cardiovascular development, and flexibility—as well as determining which of these areas they are most interested in training,” Eskey says.

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