Do or Don’t? Listening to Music While Exercising

Can music improve results?

Do or Don't? Listening to Music While Exercising

Jaclyn Fraser

Can music really improve your workout? The simple answer: Yes! Music is said to be one of the best things for your physical and mental health- here is a list of reasons why:


1. “Isn’t music distracting while working out?”

Well, put shortly yes, but it’s a good kind of distraction. This is because while listening to music, you are less aware of the strain and effort you are putting into your workout, helping you stay more motivated to keep going while exercising. Listening to music (especially while running) can improve athletes’ performances by 15%. Songs between 120 and 140 beats per minute (bpm) have the best impact towards your workout.

2. More Effort

Working out with music actually makes you put in more effort than working out without music. This is because music produces endorphins which are the body’s natural opioids that make you happy- thus providing more motivation and a happier experience when exercising.    

3. Associating Songs With Memories

The brain can associate certain sounds with certain memories, just as it can with smell, touch, sight, and taste. The memory is usually associated with the first time you experienced whatever it is you’re doing (for instance, going to the beach for the first time and smelling the salty air goes into your memory. The next time you smell salty air the brain will associate that to the first time you experienced the smell at the beach.) Channeling the memory of the first time you heard a song you liked (or just by the singer’s voice) boosts your motivation to work out by recalling the happy memory, thus increasing physical performance. The science is simple:  

sound = memory = happiness= motivation   

4.  Mood

It is a well-known fact that music has an effect on your mood. For example, listening to a sad song is not bound to make someone jump up and smile, but rather calm her mood or make her sad. Therefore, listening to up-tempo music while working out influences your mood positively, therefore putting you in a better mood while exercising.  

5. Moves

Try this: Go home, turn on your favorite song, and sit absolutely still. The result will probably be as follows: it will be very hard to refrain from moving or even mouthing the words to the song. Listening to music encourages movement, which will greatly help your motivation to work out to release your energy.

6. Stress Relief

Picture this: you’ve had a long school day and your last period is gym. You’re completely stressed out because of the two tests you have to study for, an English paper you have to write, and a group project you have to turn in. The last thing you want to do is stress your mind and body out further by running on the treadmill. By simply adding in the component of music, music acts as a natural stress relief for both your mental and physical health. Because music can help lower your cortisol levels (the stress hormone), it can make working out much more enjoyable.  


The positive effects music has on people while exercising are undeniable. Along with helping tremendously towards your physical health, it is also great for your mental health, and should definitely be incorporated into your workout routine.