Using Music To Help You Exercise

February 11, 2014 Providence Health Team

DianaSchofieldARNPMusic may help take your mind off a workout, making it go quicker. Many people believe music can have a positive effect on performance as well as motivation. Research on the use of music in exercise has produced conflicting results, but generally confirms its benefits.


Listening to music is usually seen as a pleasurable activity; exercise is not. A 2005 study of overweight and obese women enrolled in a diet and exercise program to lose weight found greater weight loss and reduction of body fat in those who were given CD players and told to listen to music while exercising.

Those who exercise with music say it breaks the monotony of exercise and makes the time go faster. It also provides a distraction from any discomfort felt during exercise.

The Body's Response

Music produces an emotional effect. Any kind of music—slow or up-tempo—will cause the heart to beat a little faster. Multiple studies support the idea that regardless of activitypushups, sit-ups, sprinting, walking, biking—subjects perform better with music.

If you're weight training though, consider fast-paced music. A 1981 study found that weightlifters who listened to sedative music demonstrated significantly less grip strength than those who listened to stimulating music or had no music during their workouts.

Ready to pick music? Consider this:

  • The ideal music for a steady run is 120 to 140 beats per minute.

  • Brisk walking (about 3.0 to 4.0 miles per hour) is complemented by music 115 to 118 beats per minute.

  • If you're weight lifting, be careful not to choose music that is to fast. Instead opt for music in the 116 to 124 range, which will help you create a tempo.

Need help picking a play list? We like Jog Tunes, which creates playlists for you based on your preferred BPM and genre of music. 

Previous Article
What Are Your Feet Telling You
What Are Your Feet Telling You

While we often ignore foot pain, it’s important to pay attention to your feet because they can tell you abo...

Next Article
Hospital Executive Takes Novel Approach in Urging Women to Keep Mammogram Appointments
Hospital Executive Takes Novel Approach in Urging Women to Keep Mammogram Appointments