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Move to the Music: Energize & Enhance your Workouts

By Penelope Reyes, B.A, M.S


Music is a powerful tool that can enhance your physical activity in many ways. Whether you listen to music before, during, or after your workout, you can experience various benefits that can improve your health, mood, and performance. In this blog, I will share with you some of the current research findings on how music affects exercise and sport and give you some tips on how to choose the best music for your workout.

A young man in athletic wear with headphones and a smartphone armband running intensely against a clear, light background as part of his physical therapy regimen.

How Music Affects Exercise and Sport

According to a study by Terry et al. 2020, music can have four main effects on exercise and sport:

  • Music reduces the feelings of fatigue – Music can distract you from the physical sensations of tiredness and discomfort, especially during low-to-moderate intensity exercise. This can help you exercise longer and harder without feeling exhausted.
  • Music increases mental arousal – Music can stimulate your brain and body to prepare for exercise, as if it is “psyching” you up to perform better. Music can also influence your emotions, mood, and attitude, making you more positive, confident, and motivated.
  • Music improves motor coordination – Music can help you synchronize your movements with the beat of the music, which can improve your rhythm, timing, and accuracy. Music can also boost your self-esteem and enjoyment, making you more likely to stick to your exercise routine.
  • Music increases relaxation – Music can help you calm down and recover after exercise, by lowering your heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels. Music can also promote healing and regeneration of your muscles and tissues, by enhancing your antioxidant capacity and mitochondrial function.
Two young adults, a man and a woman, jogging in a park as part of their physical therapy. The man wears headphones around his neck and a cap, while the woman has earphones. Both

How to Choose the Best Music for Your Workout

The type and quality of music that you listen to can affect your exercise outcomes. Here are some factors that you should consider when choosing music for your workout:

  • Music preference – The most important factor is your personal taste in music. You should choose music that you like and enjoy, as this will increase your satisfaction and adherence to exercise. You should also avoid music that you dislike or find annoying, as this will have negative effects on your mood and performance. 
  • Music tempo -The speed or pace of the music can affect your exercise intensity and effort. Generally, faster music (above 120 beats per minute) is more suitable for high-intensity exercise, such as running, cycling, or aerobics. Slower music (below 100 beats per minute) is more suitable for low-intensity exercise, such as stretching, yoga, or meditation.
  • Music lyrics – The words or messages of the music can affect your motivation and attitude. You should choose music that has positive, uplifting, or empowering lyrics, as this will inspire you to achieve your goals and overcome challenges. You should avoid music that has negative, depressing, or offensive lyrics, as this will demoralize you and lower your self-esteem.
  • Music genre – The style or category of the music can affect your mood and preference. You should choose music that matches the type and purpose of your exercise. For example, rock or pop music may be more suitable for strength training or power exercises, while classical or ambient music may be more suitable for relaxation or recovery exercises.


Music is a great way to enhance your workout performance and motivation. By choosing the right music for your exercise goals and preferences, you can experience various benefits that can improve your physical and mental health. So next time you hit the gym or go for a run, don’t forget to bring along your favorite tunes!

What are your top workout songs? Leave a comment below!

Three men in orange shirts standing in front of an orange wall.


Dr. Luke GreenwellDr. David Bokermann and Dr. Sarah Greenwell are Performance Based Physical Therapists with extensive backgrounds in optimizing movement, performance, & recovery.


We help Athletes and Active Adults Recover from Pain and Injury, Rebuild Functional Movement Patterns, and Redefine their Future Performance,  for a Return to the Sports and Activities they Love

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