The Science Behind Music and Exercise

If I go to the gym and realize I forgot my headphones and can’t listen to music, I will experience great amounts of trauma and devastation.

Okay I may be exaggerating a bit, but still, what would I do? Maybe I would try to tough out a workout, but it would definitely not be as good or long if I was not able to listen to my own music. Why is it so important to have music as you exercise? Turns out, there is a fair bit of fascinating research explaining the connection between the two.

This article by Scientific American explains that music has the power to distract people from the pain and fatigue they may experience while working hard. It also can elevate mood, increase endurance and can even promote metabolic efficiency. In a 2012 review, a leading expert on the psychology of exercise music stated that it could be considered a legal performance enhancing drug…zero side effects included.

Also, I’m going to quickly address my standpoint on pre-workouts, post-workouts, fat-burners, exercise enhancing pills, shakes, capsules…whatever the heck it is that everyone is raving about nowadays. I do NOT endorse or promote any of these products. Here’s the deal. If you are eating well, sleeping well, and taking care of your gut health, hormones, and live a relatively balanced life, there is no need to take all this crap and waste your money on it. Need energy? Try having a healthy breakfast like a smoothie, or drinking a bulletproof coffee made with MCT oil, and high quality collagen. The only supplement I use when it comes to workouts is this vegan BCAA’s I found off Amazon. The reason why I use this product is because there is actually science linking the use of BCAA’s with muscle growth. I don’t just use this because it’s trendy, it actually helps. I would warn you guys about regular pre-workouts because these products contain ingredients that are hormone disruptors, and can even cause cancers and other chronic disease. The FDA does NOT regulate these products, meaning manufacturers can basically put whatever they want into them. Just be cautious about the products you are consuming, always read labels, and if there is an ingredient that looks strange and sounds like it’s out of a science experiment, you probably should stay far away. Anyways back to the main topic of this post…

More research has emerged recently, showing how the qualities of the music are important to determining the response during exercise. One important quality of music is tempo or speed. Fast songs with strong beats are usually the most stimulating and generate the most positive response. It can also help the body use energy more efficiently. For example, working out in time with the music. A study in 2012 found that participants who cycled in time with music required 7 percent less oxygen to do the same amount of work. Music can help people maintain a steady pace and reduce mistakes. Music also has the power to change people’s perception of their own energy expenditure. This is why it seems to much easier to complete a hard workout or finish those last miles when listening to a motivating, uplifting song, rather than nothing at all. Even if someone is sitting still, if they listen to music they enjoy it increases the electrical activity within their brain, which is critical for coordinated movements often involved in lifting weights or other forms of exercise.


Of course, music choice will vary from person to person. For me personally, when I am doing an intense workout I like to listen to fast-paced remixes, music that makes you want to get up and dance like crazy. I will link both my Soundcloud down below, if you are interested in hearing my latest music selection! Spotify is also awesome because it curates a selection of music for you, based on your listening preferences which is pretty cool.

If I’m doing yoga or stretching, the type of music I listen to will change to fit this mood. I’ll sway towards more slow electronic beats, songs with strong vocals and chill tracks. For me, music is essential to getting a good workout in. I recommend having a playlist prepared before you go to the gym so that you don’t spend half your time trying to find music.

Let me know what you think!

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