Does Music Make You Workout Harder?

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on August 25, 2010

Good morning!

I was so excited when my alarm went off this morning because that meant that I could run today! :) After a quick check of how I was feeling I deemed that it was a run day. Yippee.

Before I left, I had half of a Glo Bar. This bar doesn’t even exist yet! It is a trial from several weeks ago that I popped in the freezer.



After 15-20 minutes of digesting and reading, I was on the road. It was a cool and sunny morning. Perfect for running! I didn’t bring Dwight with me because I wanted my body to tell me how fast it wanted to go and not have any watch feedback. I find the best way to get back into exercise after several days off is to ease in slowly and let your body tell you what it feels up for.

I ended up running my 3 mile route and I felt pretty good, albeit a bit more ‘rusty’ than usual.

I was excited for my first Green Monster since before the Chicago trip. We haven’t had any spinach or kale in the house, but I picked some up last night when I got a huge craving for a GM.


In the mix…


In the GM = 1 cup Almond Milk, 1 tsp Raw Maca Powder, 1 scoop Amazing Grass Wheatgrass, 1/2 ripe banana, 3 cups organic spinach, 1 juicy nectarine, 2 pieces ice.


Mmmm it was silky and delicious! The nectarine was really nice in it too.

And of course loose leaf…


Does Music Make You Workout Harder?

This morning I read an interesting article on the NY Times website about music and exercise. Tara Parker-Pope writes, ‘It’s music’s dual ability to distract attention (a psychological effect) while simultaneously goosing the heart and the muscles (physiological impacts) that makes it so effective during everyday exercise.”

Personally, I have always been a huge fan of pumping the fast beats during exercise and I do believe that it helps me train harder and not give up. However, I will admit that sometimes music just doesn’t seem to be that effective and can even be annoying.

What I thought was most interesting was that research shows there are limits to the impact music has during exercise, most notably during intense exercise. Research suggests that when you exercise at an intense level music doesn’t really have much of an impact. In a recent review of the research in 2009, Karageorghis and Priest claim that music narrows attention and distracts the mind from fatigue during moderate exercise, however during intense exercise “perceptions of fatigue override the impact of music, because attentional processes are dominated by physiological feedback.” Despite music not having as great an impact during intense exercise, many participants still claimed that they enjoyed listening to the music regardless!

I can totally relate to this research because I find that music works great for me during training runs, but during all of my races, I found that the music didn’t have as much of an impact on my performance. At times I even found the music was annoying during a race, but during other times a certain song got me through a difficult mile. It really varies for me! Sometimes during a race I will turn my music off completely and just listen to my breath and focus on my stride, pace, and the course.

What about you, does music make you workout harder? Does it help your training? What about during for intense exercise?

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

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Katheryn August 25, 2010 at 2:01 pm

When I race I have 3 songs that I play during the last 2 miles to give me that extra something, but that’s it. During all my training runs and all other exercise I listen to podcasts. Much more enjoyable to me.


Monika @ Forever-improving Girl August 25, 2010 at 2:03 pm

I used to be completely dependent on music during my runs, but ever since I started training for a half-marathon I find it actually detracts. These days I prefer to go out without my iPod and tune myself into the experience, into how my body feels and into the world around me. It doesn’t matter is it’s a long distance run or hard speed-work, no-music works well!

However for OTHER workouts – like a Body Attack class I take twice a week (an hour of intense aerobic-like exercise) – music is non-negotiable and I enjoy it immensely. Go figure.


Nour August 25, 2010 at 2:04 pm

When I’m working out, or just running errands, I like upbeat music. It pumps me up and helps me keep going. When I’m studying or writing, I like to listen to instrumentals or nature music. I like to create a zen feeling and it helps me focus.


Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin August 25, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Fast songs really help me push up the intensity of my workouts! But if I’m just doing a less-intense run, I prefer to watch the tvs at the gym to keep me from getting bored.


[email protected] August 25, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Music does help me to workout harder often times, but I have gotten used to working out without it. After my iPod died a few years ago and I didn’t have the money to replace it (still don’t), I got used to running music-free. Now i prefer it, I feel safer and I am able to think more clearly while I’m running, which is a big benefit of it for me. Time to myself to think through Things and Life :-)


Alaina August 25, 2010 at 2:33 pm

For me, music is absolutely ESSENTIAL, especially during group fitness classes like kickboxing or Zumba. I often leave if the music isn’t to my taste, ha. I also require that it be loud, which I know is bad for my ears :[

Also, random question, but where do you get your raw maca powder? Is it something you order online or can you find it at a health foods store?


Alaina August 25, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Also, you should do a post on your favorite running songs! I know you occasionally mention a few that you like, but I’m constantly on the lookout for new music to stock my ‘pod :D


Joanna @ August 25, 2010 at 2:34 pm

I definitely find that music makes me work out harder. It can get me feeling like I am on my runners high before I actually get there. It is amazing that way. However, I do get sick of songs and have to change them up. Novelty is a big thing for me.

PS- I also put almond breeze and maca into my morning green smoothies! Great addins!


Neen @ Broad Bean to Runner Bean August 25, 2010 at 2:42 pm

That GM looks awesome, beautiful glass! i like to workout to music, it makes working out more fun! i’ve never tried running without either company or music, i dont think i’d like it.


Little_Jo August 25, 2010 at 2:42 pm

I’m actually writing the biggest essay of my life (the end of all my studies at university, big deal!). Does it count as “workout”? For my brain, the answer is obviously YES! The fact is that I can’t help myself to put my earplugs and listen all kind of music… I need it… The silence is so deafening.
The funny part is that when my brain tremendously is building huge theories, I’m so concentrated that I hear that music no more! Weird, isn’t it?

I like your blog very much, even if english is not my mothertongue and it’s hard for me to understand the recipes (I need to convert measures and to use a dictionnary for ingredients)… Another kind of brainiac workout, in a sense ;)


jodye @ 'scend food August 25, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Music can definitely make me work out harder, depending on what’s playing. If I’m at the climbing gym and a really great, pumpy song is playing, I’m bound to climb better than if I hear a song I hate. It’s crazy how the mind works!


Maria @ runningcupcake August 25, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Hey- when I am running (esp a long run) I have a tendency to get slower and slower, so if a fast track comes on it will make me think about my pace and try to run in time. I have had races where I have chosen faster music to make me run faster. It does help to stop me thinking about my breathing too.


Kristy August 25, 2010 at 3:12 pm

As long as it’s a fast song, yup I def work harder! :)


Sana August 25, 2010 at 3:17 pm

I used to be a music only runner. But now I love to just zone out in my own thoughts and just zoom!


Jess *forever addicting* August 25, 2010 at 3:29 pm

That GM looks YUMMY! I’ve been eying Maca Powder for a while now..I think it’s a necessary addition to my smoothies. I’ve heard such great things about it! As for working out to music…yes, yes, yes! Music pumps me up and allows me to run or lift weights for longer!


chelsey August 25, 2010 at 4:24 pm

I don’t always listen to music while I run – some days, I just need to think and clear my mind! Other days, I want to rock out. It really just depends on my mood!


jennifer August 25, 2010 at 5:31 pm

music MAKES my workouts. I don’t really pay attention to the music itself, but I subconsciously pace myself with the beat while I think about other things, and it just keeps me going.


Callie August 25, 2010 at 6:31 pm

I actually prefer to run without music. I plan my day, solve problems and get into my thoughts. :)


Wei-Wei August 25, 2010 at 6:54 pm

I was doing my Couch to 5k run last night, and listening to house music that has lyrics and beats which are DESIGNED to get you pumping and ready to go in clubs really helps on runs. :D


Kristen August 25, 2010 at 7:24 pm

I like listening to music because it helps me go. If I don’t have music to distract myself with if i’m on a stationary bike or elliptical I focus too much on how much time I have left.


Kirsty_girl August 25, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Whether or not I listen to music depends on the exercise.
Hiking – no
Yoga – never
Running – sometimes but I have to have good tunes
Weight lifting – hard rock, punk (anything else is distracting)
Walking – sometimes


Trance Musics October 6, 2010 at 11:46 am

For me it’s like breathing, I cannot “live” without music. Electronic musics is the only thing that left for me that makes me enough inspiration for lliving.


Carol October 25, 2014 at 9:08 am

Every time I plug in my ipod I want to go for my walk. When I’m stopped at the lights (I live in the city) I want to dance while I wait for the green light. Do you think people will stare lol and wonder…….what is that woman doing? Maybe I will one day when I work up the nerve. ;)


Rachel February 12, 2018 at 5:22 pm

I literally can’t run without music. Sometimes my poor ol ipod shuffle says, “battery low” and I run faster to finish my run before it dies. I’ve had the same playlist for 10+ years (more or less) with all of my favorite songs. My body is conditioned to run along.


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