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Benefits of music during exercise

Benefits of music during exercise

As if we didn’t know already: Listening to music while exercising has a number of benefits, which are even scientifically proven. Certainly not all of them, but some. Researchers have published articles on this topic in psychological journals. With interesting results, we think:

The researchers accomplished a so-called meta-analysis; an evaluation on the basis of numerous studies, with which the “consistency of the theses” is examined. It’s a mouthful, but well suited for the topics of sports and exercise. Ultimately, this means that the results of the study should be robust and highly reliable. The more comparable the data, the better.


Intensify the sensation

One of the biggest influences of music on exercise, the researchers say, is that you feel better about what you have accomplished during training. Exercises are perceived as more effective in combination with music. This satisfying effect of music should not depend on the intensity of the exercise. It doesn’t matter whether you run on the treadmill at 5 or 80 km/h; with music you will feel (psychologically) equally satisfied.

Reduced perception of exertion

What music is supposed to do is reduce is the feeling of how hard you try. Intuitively, you perceive the effort much less. It was also observed that athletes train more intensely with musical support than without it. Of course, the psychological experts looked for reasons for their thesis. One of them is that we divert our attention from muscle pain to the music. Thus, it is less noticeable when our muscles want to give up and we keep on going.

Inspiration to be like our film heroes

Many people choose music from inspiring films when they exercise, evoking the mood of certain scenes or the strengths of certain characters. Many songs bring you immediately into the power, energy and emotion of a scene from a film. Once your mind is there, your body follows and aspires to perform as well as your cinema hero. It’s a pretty good trick for challenging yourself, try it.

Tempo and efficiency

Speaking of “full throttle”, that brings us to the tempo of the music. The studies showed that music with, for example, a tempo of 120 bpm is more efficient than slower music. Surely?a slow blues isn’t as high-performing and motivational, except maybe for with chess. The meta-study examines the tempo of the music but not the preferred time signature. It would surely be worth considering, because it’s less intuitive to put one foot in front of the other in 3/4 time than it is in 4/4. Maybe this is a good way to train your musical rhythm while exercising, killing two birds with one stone.

Good for oxygen consumption

Aspects of human physiology, such as heart rate, are maybe not directly affected by music, it can be when the song rouses up certain emotions. But it’s more a question of the body’s oxygen consumption which plays a role on your ticker ??. To put it simply: with the constant rhythm of (most) music, you can breathe more evenly and this either speeds up or slows down your heart rate. The main requirement here is that the beat is regular.

Bottom line: feelings & emotions

Music is a performance enhancer, possibly also simply a motivator. Ultimately, it’s about a feeling or emotion. If you feel better with music while you workout, you will more likely continue in your exercise program and give up less easily. With music we can condition ourselves and continue progressing in our sport or gym disciplines! Go get ’em tiger!


Here are a few suggestions for your workout playlist:
(with?Spotify links)

Do you have any other suggestions? Which are your favourite songs to exercise to?

* Source Psychological Bulletin https://psycnet.apa.org/fulltext/2019-75018-001.html

Author’s gravatar
Joe has been singing since he can remember and started playing guitar when he was 10. He's been using it as a songwriting tool ever since. He is passionate about melody and harmony and admires musicians who create these in unique ways. Check out his alternative / indie projects Best of Feelings and Zef Ra?ek.

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