If music is an important part of your workout routine you are not alone. Research shows that music can be a great motivator for longer and harder workouts. Music can be a distraction from fatigue, it can elevate mood, help increase endurance, decrease perceived effort and may even promote metabolic efficiency. Studies show when listening to music, people run farther, bike longer and swim faster than usual—often without realizing it.
- Coordinating tempo with your workout routine. When warming up or cooling down select songs with 80-90 beats per minute (bmp) range. As your pace increases listen to songs within the 120-140 bpm range. Use songbpm.com* or search in your internet browser to find out the tempo of your favorite songs.
- Use music as a motivator. Fast music can motivate longer and harder workouts because it distracts us from getting tired or wanting to stop exercising. Songs with a strong beat usually work well. But songs over 140 bpm are unlikely to improve workouts. How strongly a person identifies with a singer's emotions or lyrics can also increase motivation.
- Wearing headphones and safe volume levels. When wearing headphones be careful about volume. It's ok to crank-up the music for your favorite song but remember to turn it back down to a safe listening level. The small ear bud style headphones (inserted into the ears) do not block outside sounds. Users tend to turn up the volume over other noise. If you wear headphones, the volume is too loud if a person standing near you can hear the music coming through the headphones. And when exercising outside don't wear your headphones so you can hear traffic and other things around you. Remember safety first!
*Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended of those not mentioned and no endorsement by University of Nebraska—Lincoln Extension is implied for those mentioned.
Article originally written by Carol Schwarz. Reviewed and updated in 2021.