Music and exercise: 5 benefits of listening to music when you exercise
Many people love to pair music and exercise but it may surprise you to learn that there are scientific reasons why the two go together so well. There are many benefits to listening to music while you exercise but they all boil down to the simple fact that listening to music makes exercise feel easier and more pleasurable allowing you to work out harder than you would in silence.
Check out these reasons to pair music and exercise plus tips on how to make the most of your workout playlist.
- Music can help you keep pace
Music creates a "rhythm response" says Scientific American. This rhythm response is the tendency for people to synchronize their movements with the music. Think of using a metronome when you're learning to play the piano. Moving to a beat seems to help the body be more efficient with energy.
In the New York Times Costas Karageorghis an associate professor of sports psychology at Brunel University in England says the best tempo is between 120 and 140 beats per minute (BPM). Most commercial dance music and many rock songs are in or near that range he says. This tempo typically matches the average heart rate during a workout. Karageorghis says "Push It" by Salt-N-Pepa Rihanna's dance remix of "Umbrella" and "Drop It Like It's Hot" by Snoop Dogg are all in the 120 to 140 BPM range.
Scientific American suggests smartphone apps like jog.fm to help you match tempos to your workout pace.
- Music can elevate your mood and motivate you
A study published in Frontiers in Psychology found that people listen to music to improve their mood and find self-awareness. Wouldn't you say that you feel more motivated to do something if you're in a good mood?
- Music distracts you in a good way
Music competes with the sensations of working out — an escalating heartbeat sweat and that "wrung out" muscle feeling — and often wins your attention distracting you from the negative physical feelings says Scientific American. Because music elevates mood it can motivate you to keep going through physical discomfort.
- Music makes you exercise harder
A study by Karageorghis in the Journal of Sports Exercise Psychology found that motivational music helped exercisers push through fatigue. In an American Council on Exercise article he says that music can increase endurance during a workout up to 15 percent.
- Music gets you in the groove and makes you want to move
"High-groove music" is a scientific term really! A study in Brain and Cognition shows that groove "a musical quality that can induce movement in a listener" excites the area of the brain that is responsible for movement literally making you want to move.
Putting together your positive workout playlist
With all these benefits you'll want to choose a playlist that's long enough to get you through your workout and beyond so you don't lose focus midway through your routine. Choose songs whose BPM match the heart rate you want to achieve during your workout — faster songs for higher intensity slower ones for lighter or moderate intensity. Pick songs you have positive associations with so you can maximize your mood. Get a great set of earbuds and a good holder for your phone or MP3 player and rock out while you work out!