Exercise and Music: Does Music Improve Exercise Performance?

istock_000003643831xsmall-1Do you listen to your favorite tunes when you work out? Listening to music can lift your mood, and it may even help your exercise performance. Can music give your exercise routine a boost?

Exercise and Music: Can It Boost Your Performance?

Listening to music keeps you entertained during a workout, and it may boost your endurance, especially when the rhythm is synchronized to the pace you’re exercising. In a study published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Physiology, thirty participants synchronized the pace of their treadmill running to the tempo of rock or pop music. The group that listened to music while running improved their exercise endurance by about 15%.

In another study, researchers increased the speed of the music cyclists listened to while they pedaled. When they boosted the speed by 10%, it wasn’t noticeable to the participants. Despite this, they increased their pedal cadence and covered more distance at the higher music speed. When they imperceptibly reduced the speed of the music, their performance declined along with it. Such is the power of music.

Other Benefits of Listening to Music during Exercise

Playing music before beginning a workout may help you prepare for the exercise to come. Research shows that listening to upbeat music prior to working out increases respiratory rate and modestly boosts heart rate. This helps you get “psyched up” to exercise.

Another way listening to music can benefit a workout is by boosting motivation and directing attention away from your hardworking muscles. Music is a distracter, so you’re less likely to focus on how fatigued you’re feeling.

Can Music Boost Your Strength Too?

If you listen to music while lifting weights, don’t choose tranquil tunes. A study showed that playing slow, tranquil tunes reduced muscle strength compared to lively, upbeat music. On the other hand, upbeat music didn’t significantly boost muscle strength over silence.

Exercise and Music: How to Choose the Best Exercise Music

To maximize your performance, choose music that synchronizes with your exercise pace or your heartbeat. If you’re doing a brisk jog on the treadmill, turn off the slow music. If your target heart rate is 150 beats per minute, you’ll get the most benefit from music at around that tempo. There are sites like workoutmusic.com where you can select the tempo you want and get a music mix that corresponds to it.

Choose tunes that match your particular taste in music to make it more motivational. If you’re a rock music fan, don’t listen to country or dance music. You’ll get the most benefit if you enjoy listening to a particular genre of music.

You can also create your own music mixes. Choose songs that are uplifting and have a strong, upbeat rhythm that matches the tempo of your movements, and make sure you enjoy the style of music.

Keep your hearing in mind if you’re listening through a headset, don’t turn the volume up so high that you put your hearing at risk. It won’t be worth it if you end up with a hearing aid later. If you’re using a headset outdoors, keep the volume low enough so you’re aware of what’s going on around you.

Exercise and Music: The Bottom Line?

Exercise music can make a workout more pleasurable, and it may boost your endurance. Choose music with the right tempo to get the most benefits, and enjoy your workout! You can even download music that we have created for some of our workout videos form iTunes or Amazon.


The Sport Journal. “Music in Sport an Exercise”
University of Maryland. “The Effects of Music on Exercise”

One thought on “Exercise and Music: Does Music Improve Exercise Performance?

  1. I totally agree! i love my mp3! i switch the music weekly and it gets me through long distance runs! give me sum Drake and rihanna and im good to go!

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