Music and Exercise: 11 Reasons to Listen While You Work Out

Music and Exercise: 11 Reasons to Listen and Work Out

Music has been part of our lives since we were infants and continues to permeate our lives across all areas. Chances are good you can’t go through an entire day without hearing and being affected by music in some form or fashion. And you wouldn’t want to.

Why Is Music and Exercise a Good Match?

Like peanut butter and jelly or apple pie and baseball, music and exercise go hand in hand. Why is this such a potent combo?

When you listen to music, your body language changes. Motion begets motion, and getting yourself moving can help you keep moving. This becomes really important when you apply it to your exercise routine and your levels of motivation surrounding your exercise plans. Matching your music to the mood you want is one of the best-known tactics when it comes to getting in the zone.

What Are the Benefits of Music and Exercise?

Using music to power through your workouts is a well-known tactic used by athletes everywhere. But, there are actually numerous benefits associated with using music during exercise, and the results are powerful.

Improve your mood—music has the ability to improve the way you’re feeling. It definitely alters your mood and can bring forth certain memories. Even retail stores are known for playing specific music to get you in the buying mood. 3 Did you know companies hire “audio architects” to create a musical ambiance to get you to buy more while you’re shopping? It’s true. Why do you think they start playing holiday tunes so early each year? Think about it: if music can make you spend more money, it can certainly motivate you to get your heartrate up, too.

Pick up the pace—ever try running without your headphones? Forgetting your headphones can often be a recipe for a less-than-stellar workout. But, just listening to a song with a great beat can turn your workout around. Tune into a great song you love with a peppy beat and watch yourself knock out your workout almost effortlessly.

Keep the pace—as you run to your favorite song, your footfalls will mesh with the beats just like a metronome. It can make an otherwise boring run downright fun. Try finding upbeat music that matches your stride, and then load up your playlist with some inspiring tunes to power yourself through your next cardio session.

Helps you work out harder—music gives you the ability to have a more intense workout. You just can’t help but move to the beat, and if that beat is faster, you’re going to move faster. Motion begets motion and sometimes, even though you may not feel like getting off the couch and out the door to the gym, the right song can put you in beast mode. There’s a reason they call it being “jazzed up.”

You won’t notice you’re working harder—the right music can have you flying through your workouts without even realizing how much time has passed. Time flies when you’re having fun and when you’re enjoying great music.

Helps you focus—yes, having your favorite song playing can help get you in the zone and keep you there. Wearing headphones while you work out can also signal to others that you’re not there to socialize, you’re there to get your exercise in.

Keep your motivation high—listening to your favorite songs can ramp up your level of motivation. Sports Medicine expert Elizabeth Quinn talks about music and motivation and the important link between the two. 1 She says it’s helpful to make a special playlist of some of your favorite songs and match the tempo of the music with the pace of your workout. Believe it or not, this can keep you working out longer and harder than you would have without the music to spur you on.

Music makes groups stronger—ever wonder why you have so much fun during those group exercise classes at the gym? According to scientists, music played among groups enhances the cohesion of the group. 2 Think about bootcamp recruits running and singing/chanting military songs, church congregations singing praises, crowds singing national anthems, carolers singing Christmas songs, and more. Music has the ability to bond groups.

Cool you down—at the end of your workout, when you need to slow down your workout and start your cooldown, some slower tunes can be exactly what you need to make the transition. Soft, gentle music will help to slow your heartrate and help you transition out of workout mode into recovery mode.


Increase sense of calm—even babies can benefit from music and so can you. Because music tends to put you in a state, based on the lyrics, sounds, tempo, and memories associated with it, a simple lullaby can soothe emotions and even help prepare you for sleep. Some scientists even say music evolved because of mothers humming and singing to their children, thereby strengthening the bond between them and promoting solace.

Helps you cope with stress—according to research, music has the ability to temporarily take you to another place, mentally, where you can escape from whatever is going on around you. 2

Mix It Up

And, don’t forget to mix things up. Just like it’s important to mix up your workout routine every now and then, it’s also important to keep those music tracks fresh. Keep your ears open for new music you think will fit well with your workouts. Remember to add slower tunes for your warm-ups and cooldowns as well as faster paced music to keep you going during the bulk of your exercise program.

You may want to have several playlists you can rotate through for even greater selection and motivation.

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