7 Reasons Why You Should Exercise with Music


Michael Phelps walks out at the Olympic games wearing his headphones. Alabama football games rock to Sweet Home Alabama before every game. Every timeout and break in the action is greeted with blaring speakers. The jogger running down your street is wearing earbuds. Your gym plays music for every guest through the stereo system. Music and workouts go together like peanut butter and jelly. But have you ever stepped back to ask Why? Well now you won’t have to, because I have the answer. From psychology to biology to just plain common sense, there are endless reasons why you should exercise with music (But I’ll just list my top seven).

Lose Yourself in the Music

Let me paint you a picture. You are driving home from work, and you are listening to music in your car. You love every single song — you know every word and every nuance of the instrumentals. Without even knowing it, your brain floats away with the music. Suddenly, you are in your driveway. The drive home is over and you don’t even remember the ride. You aren’t alone. This is called “Highway Syndrome” and it is a classic example of how your brain can dissociate from your body. Music is a great catalyst for this phenomenon, and it can have the same effect your workout. Your workout will go by faster and you won’t feel as much pain. That’s a win-win!

Feel Less Pain

It might seem hard to believe, but music will help you to give a better effort in your workout. At the same time, you won’t notice that you are trying harder. This is because of dissociation again. Studies have shown that participants who exercised while listening to music reported a lower Perceived Level of Effort (PLE). At the same time, the studies measured that the participants were accomplishing the same amount of output in the same amount of time.

Go Longer

If your PLE is lower while listening to music, imagine how this can help your endurance. Most people struggle to balance max output and endurance during their workouts. By adding music, you will give the same max effort but last longer because it will feel as if you aren’t trying as hard. Over the course of several workouts, a little more endurance will go a long way. You can build workouts faster ever. More importantly, you can become fitter in less time.

Go Faster

This applies more to runners, cyclists, and cardio-enthusiasts, but everyone can implement this to their routine somehow. Another study has shown that cyclists who listen to music while completing time trials have a higher tempo and cadence than those who didn’t listen to music. Runners too will have a faster pace when listening to music. If you are like me, I measure my improvement by how long it takes me to complete a time trial. Whether I’m running a mile or I am biking my favorite route, my goal is to always find a way to go faster than last time. Music has helped me to maintain rhythm and ultimately set personal best times.

Hip Hop Music works Best

That Eminem video at the top of this article is more than just a clever play on words. Eminem has been proven to be the best kind of music to listen to while working out. Which is perfect, because who doesn’t like Eminem? I personally love hip-hop music, and have found it to be the best type of music for me, but I understand that it isn’t for everyone. There are three important factors when choosing music to workout to. One, the lyrics are motivational or they tell stories about physical endeavor. Two, the beat of the music is fast and it drives on the down beat. Three, the song has a catchy tune. Just find your favorite songs that meet these requirements, then get on your way to your best training yet.

Enjoy Your Session More

Working out isn’t always rainbows and sunshine. It is a grueling task that can quickly become tedious. Why not make your exercise a little more fun? Music will provide your brain with a little extra stimulation and thus a little more enjoyment. Participants in studies reported higher level of enjoyment for their workout when they were able to listen to music. How can you be negative while listening to your favorite song? (Sad songs don’t count)

Recover. You Deserve It

Music can help you increase your fitness outside of your workout as well. Put on some tunes while you are warming up or you are getting ready to warm up. This will get your heart rate up and help you warm up more efficiently. Play some chill music when you are warming down. It can have the opposite effect of intense music, and it will help you relax quicker. The power of music extends well beyond the gym, and I hope you can find more ways to use its power to better not only your health, but your life as well.