Need to power through a workout? Crank up the tunes.

If you’re having trouble getting yourself to the gym to workout, or find yourself getting really bored while you exercise, then putting together an awesome playlist of your favorite music can help.

Listening to music while exercising has been shown to improve exercise performance and adherence. [1,2] This performance-enhancing effect is likely caused by a decrease in the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scores—a subjective measurement of the difficulty of an exercise. [3] Individuals who listened to music rated an exercise as “less strenuous” and “more comfortable” than individuals not listening to music while exercising at the same intensity level.

Additionally, these effects appear to be strongest in individuals who are relatively new to exercise. [4] Choosing music that matches the intensity of the exercise (beats per minute) can help you keep a moving pace at a reduced sense of effort. It is unclear whether music can enhance anaerobic exercise performance (lifting weights) on a psycho-physiological level [5], but can still increase the overall enjoyment of the activity leading to greater adherence levels.

Tips for creating a good workout playlist:

  • Match the intensity of the song to the intensity of the workout. Choosing music with higher beats per minute (bpm), that matches the pace you want to keep, can help you maintain that speed with less perceived effort.
  • Reward yourself by “unlocking” new music. Turn your workouts into a game: complete x number of workouts and you will add a new song to your playlist, unlocking it for use in future workouts.
  • Only listen to your workout music while you workout. It’s easy to get excited about a new song and listen to it non-stop wherever you go. However, this will cause you to lose interest in the song. It’s never good when you spend more time skipping songs than actually exercising. Limit yourself to listening to these songs only when you workout, then it will give you a reason to look forward to your daily exercise!

The research is clear: music can enhance your exercise performance and enjoyment. Giving yourself a reason to get excited about your workouts, via special playlists, will not only help get you into the gym but also help you push that extra little bit that can make all the difference in your results.

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