The Benefits of Listening to Music: How Your Favorite Tunes Can Enhance Your Workouts

woman with headphones in the gym
Whether you're aiming to finish one more set or one more mile, music can help you keep going!
by Steven Auger

Thanks to technology, people can now listen to music wherever they go. And that's a good thing!

The act of listening to music is chock-full of health benefits. Enjoying some tunes has been shown to reduce stress levels, help you sleep better, and increase dopamine flow (that's one of the chemicals that floods your brain when you're in love), Reader's Digest notes. Best of all, the benefits of listening to music can also extend to the gym.

Look around any fitness club and you're sure to see tons of fellow gym-goers sweating to the beat of their favorite songs. For people who don't like headphones during a workout, chances are high that there's music coming through the building's speaker system. Whether you choose your own playlist or your gym assumes the role of DJ, music can really motivate!

The Performance-Boosting Magic of Music

A report published in the International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology studied the theory that listening to music while you exercise can positively impact your workout. Even before its implications at the gym were studied, music has been shown to have a ton of positive effects including raising spirits, capturing attention, altering a mood, increasing work output, and reducing inhibitions, among others.

When it comes to listening to music for a workout, there are two phases: pre-task and in-task.

The term "pre-task," as it relates to the gym, refers to the period of time before you begin your workout. Your favorite music can provide a powerful pre-workout stimulation. In simpler terms, listening to songs you enjoy can pump you up as you prepare to crush your new workout routine!

The term "in-task" relates to playing music while you exercise. Motivational music may actually increase your endurance level during high-intensity workouts. That means you could run on a treadmill longer, harder, and faster if you're listening to your favorite tunes (instead of the daily news, for instance).

Getting Psyched and Building Self-Confidence

The benefits of listening to music during exercise also extend to the brain, according to the National Center for Health Research. Physical changes in hormone levels — specifically serotonin — provide a psychological boost. People who listen to music they find pleasing tend to have higher serotonin levels. Referred to as the "feel good" hormone, the release of serotonin often results in an improved mood. Higher levels are sure to enhance your workout!

Aside from helping you last longer and work harder, music can also improve a person's motor and movement coordination during a workout, according to the American Council on Exercise. "When the body is in sync with music, people often experience a boost in self-confidence, which creates a positive association with exercise," the source explains.

Next time you're in the gym, try listening to different paced songs for different activities. For instance, select slower, more relaxed songs while warming up and cooling down, and faster, more upbeat songs during high-intensity activities. Be mindful of your body, and motivate yourself with music!

As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.