Can Listening to Music Help Boost Your Workouts?

Wellbeing Tips
December 11, 2020

Can music really give you the extra oomph you need to smash your workouts? Find out more about the benefits of listening to energetic tunes while you exercise.

Over the past decade, there’s been a remarkable uplift in the number of studies conducted around workout motivation music. Lots of people wouldn’t dream of going for a jog without headphones, and the trainer’s choice of music can make or break the success of an exercise class. But the reasons why exercise and music make such natural bedfellows haven’t always been clear. Read on to find out why killer beats can have a real performance-boosting effect.

It’s a distraction (of the good kind!)

Wouldn’t it be great if there was some way to make your workouts seem like a piece of cake? Well, studies show that workout motivation music can make people less aware of their exertion, which means that working up a sweat when listening to music becomes a far more pleasant experience.

It can help you work harder

Studies have shown that workout motivation music helps people to push themselves further and make more of an effort when they work out. For example, research from the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports found that cyclists pedal harder when listening to up-tempo music. The reason for this isn’t entirely clear, but it makes energetic tunes a great way of powering through physically draining endurance activities.

It can improve your mood

It’s already well-established that music can help to improve your mood and make you feel better, which can be ideal for getting you ready and raring to go for a workout. But there are also situations where music can help you “psych down”, which may help to reduce your anxiety before a race or sporting event.

It makes you want to move

Music and motion have always had a close relationship, with recent research helping to shed some light on why this might be the case. Basically, studies have shown that music boosts electrical activity in the regions of your brain that control movement. So, if you’re listening to music, you automatically want to get up and start moving, which makes it much easier to hit the ground running with your workouts.

Should I always play music when I work out?

This is an interesting one, because there are times when trainers will recommend that you avoid playing music while you’re exercising. When you’re learning a new skill, need to devote your full attention to the task in hand, or when you’re working out at a high intensity and need to pay attention to your physical limits (which playing music can help to distract you from), most experts recommend that you hit the pause button on your playlist.

What is the best type of music to play when working out?

It’s not always easy to determine the best workout songs, and in many cases, it may simply be that the music you like the best will have the most positive effect on your performance. However, studies have shown that songs which have between 120 to 140 beats per minute (bpm) hit the sweet spot in terms of their performance-boosting effects. From Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance to Flo Rida’s Low, tons of great songs fall within this Golden Zone. Check out the database from, which lets you search for the best workout songs according to beats per minute. Or, just see the Withings #2021Goals playlist which features favorite workout songs from our fellow co-workers and suggests from our Withings community members on Facebook. We plan to keep adding to it, so be sure to follow.

Choosing the right gear

Yes, music is great for your workouts, but there are a couple of things to consider before heading out into the wild. It’s basic common sense that running with headphones on can be a health risk, with a recent study finding that injuries among pedestrians wearing headphones actually tripled from 2004 to 2011. The solution? Pick up a pair of unsealed headphones that allow you to hear outside noise, so you won’t be blindsided by a car or cyclist the next time you go out for a jog.
It seems clear that workout motivation music could have a positive effect on your exercise routine. If you’re one of those strange people who aren’t already surgically attached to your headphones, why not load up your favorite playlist the next time you work out and see if you notice any changes?