Music and Exercise Performance

Music and Exercise Performance

Three potential scenarios:

You’ve just finished work, you want to exercise, but you’re feeling a little demotivated.

Perhaps you made it to the gym, but today, you’re struggling to finish your workout.

Or perhaps, you’re ready to smash a personal best but need some kind of performance enhancer to ensure you seal the deal.

Could music be the answer?

Listening to music can produce powerful effects, and is often overlooked when it comes to exercise performance.

Music distracts you from pain and fatigue, elevates mood, increases endurance and even encourages you to move more. In a review of existing research, one of the world's leading experts wrote that one could think of music as "a type of legal performance-enhancing drug(1,2).

Research also suggests that athletes performing high-intensity bursts of activity, such as sprinting or weight training, see an immediate increase in performance when listening to music(3).

USA Track & Field, the governing body for competitive running in America, even banned portable media players in 2007, stating that the new rule was created to ensure safety and to prevent runners from having a competitive edge(4).

So it might just be time to revisit some old playlists or create a new floor-wobbler with these ideas in mind.

Take your game to the next level with a killer workout playlist.

Music is an extremely personal thing. What might get you squirting serotonin (aka the Happy Hormone) might do something totally different for someone else.

So experiment. Dust off some old classics from your youth, try a few different tempos and moods to see what gets you going.

This could also be activity dependant. For running, a steady upbeat track might be what gets you into the movement trance you need. A heavy deadlift might be favourably paired with heavy… metal.

Don’t forget your cool down, relax, I’m ready to go home tracks. Music has been shown to improve recovery too(5).

On a practical note, having a solid pair of wireless sports headphones can be a great tool. The lack of wires will keep them out of your way while you train, while also being resistant to sweat. In addition, headphones like this are designed to not fall out, no matter how many burpee's you do.

So what are you waiting for? Get moving. Get grooving.
Karageorghis, C. and Priest, D., 2012. Music in the exercise domain: a review and synthesis (Part I). International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 5(1), pp.44-66.
Karageorghis, C. and Priest, D., 2012. Music in the exercise domain: a review and synthesis (Part II). International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 5(1), pp.67-84. 2022. Rule Jostles Runners Who Race to Their Own Tune (Published 2007). [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 22 February 2022].
Smirmaul, B., 2017. Effect of pre-task music on sports or exercise performance. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 57(7-8).
Eliakim, M., Bodner, E., Eliakim, A., Nemet, D. and Meckel, Y., 2012. Effect of Motivational Music on Lactate Levels During Recovery from Intense Exercise. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(1), pp.80-86.

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